‘They might die’: Swiss homeowner refuses to sell to vaccinated buyers

A homeowner in Switzerland backed out of a sale at the last minute when learning the prospective buyers were vaccinated, fearing the vaccination may kill them before the deal was done. The refusal is not categorised as discriminatory under Swiss law.

A small plastic house sits next to a key on a wooden surface
Deciding not to sell to a vaccinated person is not discriminatory in Switzerland. Photo by Tierra Mallorca on Unsplash

Potential property buyers lost their chance to purchase a house when they revealed to the owner that they were vaccinated against Covid.

As reported by Watson news outlet on Thursday, a couple from the Neuchâtel region was negotiating with the homeowner to purchase her house.

READ MORE: Top ten tips for finding an apartment in Switzerland

The process was nearly completed when they mentioned, during an aside conversation about the pandemic, that they had their Covid shots.

At that point the owner who, according to the couple, was an anti-vaxxer, refused to sell her house to them. The failed sale took place in late September. 

The buyers told Swiss news outlet Watson that while the owner struck them as a little weird, they liked the idea of doing the transaction without a broker or agent. 

“We quickly understood that we were dealing with a rather a-typical personality” one of the failed buyers said. 

“She sometimes made little, weird remarks. But we just made sure the meeting was going well.

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“She constantly changed her mind about the conditions of sale, always imposed new ones: on the dates, questions of taxes on the real estate gain … We felt she was really hesitant (to sell).”

The buyers said the woman brought up the topic of vaccination at a dinner. When learning the prospective buyers were vaccinated, the seller backed out of the deal due to fear the vaccinated buyers would die before the deal was done. 

“I could tell that she herself was very reluctant to vaccinate. Personally, I did not want to enter into the subject. But the moment she asked me the question, I knew I was going to be honest,” said one of the failed buyers.

“The goal was to sign immediately, with an onward sale in December. But for her, it was obvious that we were going to die between the time we signed and the actual sale.”

READ MORE: Why do so many Swiss prefer to rent rather than buy their own home?

The failed buyers said the woman had taken a “religious” type of stance and lamented how difficult it was to find “common ground” on vaccination status. 

Refusal legal under Swiss law: ‘The seller can refuse because he doesn’t like your face’

Even though Swiss law forbids discrimination based on one’s vaccine status, this applies to public entities and employers only.

However, when it comes to transactions between private individuals, “the seller can refuse to sell to you just because he doesn’t like your face”, said a legal expert quoted by Watson.

“This is contractual freedom”.

READ MORE: Why Switzerland’s Covid certificate is ‘not discriminatory’

Anti-vaccination movements are strong in Switzerland, which is at least in part why the country’s vaccination rate lags behind its neighbours and the EU average as a whole. 

In late October, police in the ski resort of Zermatt blocked the entrance to a bar and restaurant run by Covid sceptics who refused to comply with the country’s Covid measures. 

READ MORE: Swiss police use concrete to block access to Covid sceptic restaurant

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Switzerland authorises Moderna vaccine for children over six

Children between the ages of six and 11 will now be able to get a Moderna shot, Swiss health authority said.

Switzerland authorises Moderna vaccine for children over six

Until now only the Pfizer vaccine has been approved in Switzerland for this group, starting at age five.

However, on Friday the country’s drug regulatory body, Swissmedic, gave the green light to start administering Moderna’s vaccine to children over six, who will receive two half doses of 50 micrograms at an interval of four weeks.

Those over 12 and adults are injected the full dose.

The agency said that based on clinical studies, young kids react to the Moderna vaccine much like older children and adults do.

“The most commonly reported side effects such as pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, shivering or nausea, were similar to those in adolescents and young adults”. Swissmedic said.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Covid vaccines for children in Switzerland

Also, “fever occurred more frequently in children, whereas muscle and joint pains were seen less often than in adolescents or adults. The undesirable effects were generally mild to moderate and lasted for a few days”.

While some parents may be reluctant to vaccinate their children against the coronavirus, health officials say the vaccines are safe. They also argue that in order to achieve herd immunity, all age groups should have their shots.

While the number of Covid infections has dropped significantly in Switzerland in the past two months, epidemiologists are predicting a new outbreak in the fall and winter, when cooler weather drives more people indoors, where the yet-unknown variants will be more transmissible.

READ MORE: How can I get my children vaccinated against Covid in Switzerland?