The United Nations rights chief, Michelle Bachelet on Wednesday warned against compulsory vaccination of Covid-19, adding that Countries planning on introducing vaccine mandates as measures to contain the spread of the dreaded virus must ensure human rights are put into consideration.
She also stressed that forced vaccination was never acceptable.
Speaking to a Human Rights Council seminar via a video message, Michelle Bachelet cautioned that there were significant rights considerations that needed to be taken into account before making vaccination compulsory.
Any “vaccine mandates must comply with the principles of legality, necessity, proportionality and non-discrimination”, she said, according to a transcript.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said the aims sought by countries mulling mandates to protect lives as Europe and other regions battle fierce surges in the pandemic, were “of course of the highest order of legitimacy and importance”.
But she insisted that “vaccine mandates should be employed only when necessary for achieving compelling public health ends”.
She also emphasised that for any mandate to be acceptable, countries needed to ensure that vaccines are truly available and affordable.
“Unless all people have genuine, practical access to vaccines, vaccine requirements will not be consistent with fundamental human rights principles of equality and non-discrimination,” she said.
Bachelet also highlighted that “the actual vaccines employed must also be sufficiently safe and effective to achieve (the) public health aims.”
Any mandatory vaccination regime also must be flexible enough to allow for “appropriate exceptions, such as where a vaccination is medically contraindicated for an individual.”
Bachelet said it could be appropriate to restrict some rights and liberties, including conditioning access to schools, hospitals or other public spaces on vaccination.