Corona vaccination for Bundeswehr soldiers remains mandatory

Corona vaccination remains mandatory for Bundeswehr soldiers. The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig rejected on Thursday the complaints of two air force officers against the inclusion of the Covid-19 vaccine in the list of compulsory vaccinations. The plaintiffs saw the settlement as a violation of their fundamental right to bodily integrity, among other rights, and demanded that vaccination be removed from the list, but have now failed.

The settlement was legal, the First Service Senate said. The Federal Ministry of Defense was authorized to determine the necessary protective vaccinations for the Bundeswehr, since all soldiers were required to maintain good health in the interest of fulfilling their military mission. In doing so, they should tolerate communicable disease prevention measures, even against their will. The department had not exceeded its discretionary powers.

According to presiding judge Richard Häußler, in November, when the decree arrived, the corona situation was “very serious”. Incidents had increased, the delta variant, which was even more dangerous than Omicron, had prevailed, and it was feared that hospital capacity was insufficient. There had also been a warning signal to policymakers through the recommendations of experts and scientists, so they understood the need to vaccinate soldiers.

This assessment was also shared by the Federal Constitutional Court when it declared compulsory vaccination in nursing and medicine at the end of April. “We agree with this assessment,” Häußler said. According to the court, vaccination could only reduce the risk of infection and transmission, but at the same time reduce the risk of a serious course by 90%.

During the hearing, the Senate had also heard experts, in particular from the Paul Ehrlich Institute. Then he agreed with the assessment that vaccination still has a relevant protective effect also against the Omicron variant. The positive effect continues to clearly outweigh the risk. According to the current recommendation of the Robert Koch Institute, this also applies to young adults under the age of 60.

However, the ministry must assess and monitor the vaccination requirement, the court demanded. Standing orders should always be reviewed to determine whether they continue to be proportionate and discretionary in light of changing circumstances. Before ordering new booster vaccinations, the results must therefore be reassessed, because the dangerousness of the virus is decreasing and the vaccines currently available are becoming less effective.

Since the end of November, the military have been obliged to tolerate Corona vaccination, provided that there are no medical reasons against it. The plaintiffs argued that, in their view, vaccination was not sufficiently researched and did not prevent infection or disease.

Häußler said in the ruling that while side effects could occur and there were gaps in data collection, the court concluded in its assessment that the benefits of vaccination outweighed the risks. He had already clarified at the start of the hearing in May that the decision in the present case only concerned the two officers who had filed the complaint. Other cases involving soldiers from different units are pending before the Federal Administrative Court.

After the judgment, one of the two plaintiffs, Marcus B., said he had to “admit it”. The other plaintiff, Christian B., left open whether he would now be vaccinated. “I need a vaccination request,” he said, not ruling out dismissal.

Photo by Myriam Zilles

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