What does the Law say about Mandatory Vaccination?

English Law

It is an established principle in English Law that an individual with the capacity to consent cannot and should not be compelled to have any medical treatment against their wishes.

The Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 (section 45E) provides that Regulations made under certain sections of that Act “may NOT include provision requiring a person to undergo medical treatment… ‘Medical treatment’ includes vaccinations and other prophylactic treatment”.

We would argue that this principle, enshrined in our domestic law, would make it inequitable and potentially unlawful for anyone – employer, service provider or other organisation – to seek to mandate the vaccine.

The Council of Europe

Furthermore, on 27 January 2021 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe passed Resolution 2361 (2021) in which it stated that governments should:

  • Ensure that citizens are informed that the vaccination is NOT mandatory and that no one is politically, socially, or otherwise pressured to get themselves vaccinated if they do not wish to do so. (Paragraph 7.3.1)
  • Ensure that no one is discriminated against for not having been vaccinated due to possible health risks or not wanting to be vaccinated (Paragraph 7.3.2)

The UK is one of 47 member states of the Council of Europe, whose focus is the promotion of respect for human rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The United Nations

The requirements set out by the United Nations Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights further enshrine the right to informed consent. This states that “any preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic medical intervention is only to be carried out with the prior, free and informed consent of the person concerned, based on adequate information.”

Furthermore, the United Nations further states in relation to experimental treatment that “Scientific research should only be carried out with the prior, free, express and informed consent of the person concerned”


What is the Government Planning regarding Covid Vaccination?

At present, no one can be coerced into vaccination, and employers cannot require it as a condition of employment.

However on 14 April 2021 the government launched an open (public) consultation on proposals to require staff in care homes for older adults in England to have a Covid-19 vaccine as part of their conditions of employment.

The government is considering amending the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014. This would mean older adult care home providers could only use those staff who have received the COVID-19 vaccination (or those with a legitimate medical exemption).

If the government goes ahead with this, it may pave the way for other employers to demand vaccination as a condition of employment.

Please let the government know your views about this. Staff, providers, stakeholders, residents and their families are being urged to take part to have their opinions heard. The consultation closes at 11:45pm on 21 May 2021.


Template letter to Employers re Covid Vaccination

If your employer is demanding you receive a Covid vaccine as part of your conditions of employment, you can download and send them this formal grievance letter. All you need to do is fill in the relevant parts with your details.


External Resources

Template letters and information on other websites.

(NB: Lawyers for Liberty is not responsible for the contents or reliability of any other websites to which we provide a link, and we do not necessarily endorse the views expressed within them.)

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