The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is backing the Czech Republic’s rules of mandatory vaccination for pre-school children. The vote of 16 to 1 decided that banning unvaccinated children from attending school is an acceptable “protective measure”, according to the report by Bloomberg.

The landmark ruling comes following complaints from multiple Czech parents after their unvaccinated children were refused entry to preschool, or received fines from the government. Some of these complaints date as far back as 2003.

The legislation does not yet apply to COVID-19 vaccines since the complaints were filed before the current pandemic. Barbora Peterová, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health, has confirmed that the ruling doesn’t have any implications for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Czech law obliges parents to vaccinate their kids against nine different diseases, including tetanus, hepatitis B, or polio. One of the complaints was from a parent who refused to vaccinate his two teenage children against these three diseases. 

Following complaints from parents, the ECHR decided that the fines they had received “were not excessive” and that Czech law was reasonable.

“The Court found that the measures complained of by the applicants when assessed in the national context, had struck a fair balance with the aims pursued by the Czech State, i.e. protection against diseases representing a serious risk for one’s health.” 

Banning unvaccinated kids from pre-school is “preventative, rather than punitive,” and “necessary in a democratic society,” according to the ECHR. As well, they believe the Czech government has “pursued the legitimate aims of protecting health as well as the rights of others, noting that vaccination protects both those who receive it and also those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.” 

Coronavirus vaccines have also not been developed for children yet, but Moderna and Pfizer are working on it. Whether or not the COVID-19 vaccine gets added to the list of mandatory inoculations for children remains to be seen. 

Illustrative photo by by CDC on Unsplash