The Slovenia Times

Medical Ethics Committee urges considering vaccination mandate for exposed groups


Ljubljana - The National Medical Ethics Committee has joined a growing chorus of medical associations calling for Slovenia to consider imposing mandatory vaccination on vulnerable and exposed groups of population, and, given new strains of the virus, possibly introducing a general vaccination mandate.

The committee, which adopted its position at a correspondence session on Monday, notes the increase in Covid-19 incidence rate in the country driven by both the spread of Delta infections as well as the surge in the more infectious Omicron variant.

It particularly points to the spread of transmissions among the elderly, which it blames on insufficient vaccination rates and the anti-vaccination sentiment, a situation that it says calls for a re-examination of preventive measures where it says vaccination is the most effective one.

The committee supports "all measures that are lawful, preventive in intention and ethically justified for public health", including vaccination," noting that many countries are introducing the mandate in settings where required by the outbreak.

Noting the high proportion of the unvaccinated among Covid-19 patients and fatalities, the committee calls for considering mandatory vaccination for the groups of population most exposed to severe symptoms of the disease and all those who are in contact with groups of people at work on a daily basis.

"In case of new epidemic variants of the virus it would be - given the expert opinion and the efficacy of vaccines - worth considering a general vaccination mandate," reads the opinion released on Tuesday.

The committee says the state has a duty to adopt rules for compensation procedures in case of adverse effects of vaccination. Such a system for Covid-19 vaccination has been introduced in the latest Covid relief package.

The latter does not yet provide the legal basis for mandatory vaccination. Under the communicable diseases act, the health minister can include Covid-19 vaccination on the list of mandatory vaccinations at the proposal of the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ).

However, the institute's epidemiologists have recently unanimously opted against mandatory vaccination against Covid-19 for the time being for a third time, citing a lack of the implementation plan.

The Health Ministry at the time said it would follow NIJZ guidance on the matter.

This was after the Slovenian Medical Association and the medical council of the Ljubljana UKC medical centre called for mandatory vaccination, whilst the UKC Maribor medical council urged taking all scientifically guided measures to reach a 95% vaccination rate.

NIJZ data shows only 56% of Slovenia's population has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

The Medical Ethics Committee also called on health professionals to find ways to align their views, noting that their differences on the issue "support the anti-vaccination sentiment in the country".


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