A new study comparing policies around the world finds broad implementation of vaccination mandates.
However, the penalties for failing to vaccinate differ significantly by country, ranging from fines to jail time.
“Achieving and maintaining high vaccination coverage globally is critical,” says Nicole Basta, an associate professor in the epidemiology, biostatistics and occupational health department at McGill University.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown just how challenging infectious disease control is when vaccination is not possible. There are many other vaccine-preventable diseases, yet vaccine uptake is not high enough to prevent outbreaks in many countries,” Basta says.
The study in Vaccine assesses national mandatory vaccination policies from all UN-recognized countries worldwide.
“The use of vaccination programs is one of the most cost-effective and successful tools for public health. Especially in a pandemic, high vaccination coverage on a global scale is important,” says lead author Katie Gravagna, a master’s student in epidemiology studying under Basta’s supervision.
Researchers found that 105 out of the 193 countries (54%) they studied had evidence of a national mandatory vaccination mandate policy that required at least one vaccine. Of those, 62 countries (59%) also have one or more penalties that can be imposed on individuals who do not comply. The frequency, types, and severity of penalties for failing to comply with mandatory vaccination varied widely across all regions from relatively minor penalties like small one-time fines to jail time.
The most common penalties included those of the educational and financial variety. Most educational penalties deny school enrollment until vaccination requirements have been met. Of the 32 countries with financial penalties, 53% have one-time fines of less than $1,000 USD.
More severe penalties include jail time—a possibility in 12 countries, seven of which include less than six months. Italy’s mandatory vaccination policy has among the most severe penalties, with violations potentially resulting in the temporary loss of parental rights.
“Our findings set the stage for the most important next step: determining whether these mandatory vaccination policies and the penalties that countries use to promote adherence are effective, beneficial, or harmful in deterring non-compliance,” says Basta.
“These comparative studies are important because we need to define best practices for sustaining high vaccination uptake worldwide.”
Source: McGill University