In late February, a Swiss court handed down an order requiring a mother to vaccinate her child against several childhood diseases including diphtheria. tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and pneumococci.
The mother, a vaccination sceptic who believed all forms of vaccination constitute bodily harm, was engaged in a dispute with the child’s father, who wanted the child vaccinated.
On the basis of consultations with the child’s doctor, the Chamber for the Protection of Children and Adults in the Aargau Supreme Court dismissed the mother’s complaint.
Child vaccinations could only be avoided on doctor’s advice, the court held, saying the studies and arguments the mother produced “lacked evidence”.
The court held she faced up to CHF10,000 in fines if she refused to have her child vaccinated.
What are the rules in Switzerland?
Do parents need to consent for their children to be vaccinated?
No. In the midst of the Covid pandemic, Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset confirmed to parliament that parental consent is not required in order for children to be vaccinated, whether for Covid or otherwise.
While some parents, particularly those who are sceptical about vaccines, may be dismayed by the decision, the position is valid in Swiss law.
Children aged 12 and over can decide whether they want to be vaccinated, while parents can be compelled with fines to vaccinate their children under that age.
Berset said minors from the age of 12 and up were “largely capable of judgement” and therefore can make their own decisions with regard to vaccinations, provided they are mentally healthy and conscious.
Where a child from the age of 12 satisfies this standard “no parental or legal guardian consent is required”.
Parents are only allowed to have a say on whether their child gets vaccinated if the child is incapacitated or otherwise unable to make the decision.
“Only if a child or a young person is incapable of judgment do the owners of parental authority have to give consent to the vaccination,” concludes Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health.