The government is not proposing to make a Covid-19 vaccine mandatory

11 November 2020
What was claimed

A UK government document is circulating promoting mandatory Covid-19 vaccination.

Our verdict

Evidence submitted to a parliamentary committee by four academics argues that the government may want to consider making a Covid-19 vaccine mandatory. This is not being proposed by the government.

What was claimed

The Mental Health Act will be used to section people who refuse to have the Covid-19 vaccine so they can be forced to have it.

Our verdict

The government is not proposing this. Four legal and ethics academics wrote to the government arguing that this may theoretically be possible.

We’ve seen a number of posts on Facebook that suggest a government document indicates that the Covid-19 vaccine will be mandatory and the government will use the Mental Health Act to section people who refuse the vaccine.

This is not the case. The document in question was not written by the government—it was submitted as evidence from a group of law and ethics experts to a parliamentary committee that asked for evidence about how Covid-19 may affect human rights. What it discusses is in no way government policy, or even being proposed by the government.

Many other interested parties also submitted evidence, which is also all published on the parliamentary website.

This particular document was submitted by academics at the University of York and Oxford. In it, they discuss the legalities around theoretically making a vaccine compulsory, and recommend that the government “should give serious consideration to compulsory immunisation as a means of reducing the impacts of Covid-19”.

That doesn’t mean this is going to happen.

Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health said recently that the government is not proposing to make a Covid-19 vaccine mandatory.

The document also discusses the legalities around treating someone who is detained under the Mental Health Act, commonly known as being ‘sectioned’. They argue that “if compulsory treatment under mental health law is compatible with human rights law, so too is compulsory vaccination”. 

Again, this is not being proposed by the government. 

You can’t be forced to get a vaccine

Vaccines are not mandatory in the UK, as we have written before. The government’s own guidelines on vaccinations says individuals “must be given enough information to enable them to make a decision before they can give consent.”

We’ve written more about the rules surrounding consent to vaccination in the UK here.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as missing context because the document, although published on parliament’s website, is not being proposed by the government.

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