Introduce 'compulsory vaccination choice,' not compulsory vaccination, says expert

Introduce 'compulsory vaccination choice,' not compulsory vaccination, says expert
Epidemiologist Marius Gilbert. Credit: Belga

During the hearings on the implementation of the vaccination obligation in Parliament, epidemiologist Marius Gilbert (ULB) proposed a so-called "compulsory vaccination choice" instead of compulsory vaccination.

The compulsory vaccination choice means that people who do not want to be vaccinated would be obliged to visit a doctor of their choice during a free consultation.

"Even if the vaccination rate against the Delta variant had been 100%, the decline in the effectiveness of the vaccines might not have been enough," Gilbert said. "That is an important lesson to remember."

That is why he argued that the emphasis in communication with the population should be on the protection that the vaccines do offer, and a "compulsory vaccination choice" could help with that.

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Those who do not wish to be vaccinated would be required to visit a doctor for a consultation. This would give the doctor the opportunity to discuss vaccination. "That way, the doctor can take the individual risk of the patient into account."

"Additionally, there would be less of a burden on the individual and their environment. And more vulnerable populations would be brought back into contact with a medical environment," Gilbert added.

Economist Mathias Dewatripont, who was also invited to speak at the Parliament, liked Gilbert's idea and even went a step further. "That way, we can reach out to the unvaccinated who are not well informed and who do not have much contact with the health system."

"We could, for example, combine that 'compulsory vaccination choice' with a positive incentive, such as a free medical check-up linked to vaccination," he said. "Maybe we can achieve double benefits that way."

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