A Covid-19 vaccine could be made mandatory in Switzerland

While Swiss law doesn’t allow authorities to force anyone to be immunised against their will, a health official said coronavirus vaccine could be obligatory for some people.

A Covid-19 vaccine could be made mandatory in Switzerland
Vaccine could be obligatory for health care workers. Photo by AFP

Health Minister Alain Berset said in an interview with SFR television station on Thursday that he is “open” to mandating the vaccine for people working in close contact with others — for example, in health care sector and elderly care homes.

“If an employee refuses, then they would have to work elsewhere, in a place where they don’t come in contact with people at risk”, Berset added.

READ MORE: One in five Swiss in favour of compulsory coronavirus vaccination 

It is too early to say at the moment whether there would be much resistance to the vaccine, once it becomes available.

Two recent studies showed different results. One indicated that the majority of Switzerland’s population is in favour of the vaccination, while another found that only one in five Swiss support it.

In August, Switzerland secured early access to Covid-19 vaccine now being developed by the American pharmaceutical company Moderna.

Swiss authorities pre-ordered 4.5 million doses. Since two doses of the vaccine will be needed, this means that 2.25 million people, about a fourth of the country’s population, can be vaccinated against Covid-19 — the only known strategy so far to build the immunity to the disease.

However, the vaccine is not expected to be ready for use before next year at the earliest.

The sense of urgency to develop the vaccine has raised fears that companies and regulators might rush to produce vaccines that have not been properly tested for safety and efficacy.

But pharmaceutical company executives insist they would bring Covid-19 vaccines to market only after thorough testing. 

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