The research warned against a mandatory Covid-10 vaccine programme Shutterstock/Dusan Petkovic

NPHET warned that mandatory vaccinations could cause 'distrust' in programme

The paper said Ireland’s vaccine programme has seen success due to “trust and transparency”.

A MANDATORY VACCINE programme could lead to mistrust of the government and increased anti-vaccine sentiment hesitancy.

That’s according to research carried out for the National Public Health Emergency Team on the effectiveness of such a model for protection against Covid-19.

It also warned that a vaccine mandate would be “logistically complex, expensive and time consuming” to implement. 

Few countries have introduced mandatory vaccine programmes, with Austria doing so last month, which will see people fined if they do not get their jab. 

The paper noted that Ireland’s vaccine programme had achieved success as it has been “largely based upon trust and transparency rather than penalties and enforcement” against the public.

Were NPHET to change to a mandatory programme rather than voluntary system, it may “trigger distrust in Government” and cause civil unrest. 

It would also be “unlikely to significantly increase uptake amongst those who remain unvaccinated”, the research paper said.

A mandatory vaccination programme would risk harming those from more disadvantaged sections of society, while potentially increasing polarisation and antivaccination sentiment more generally.

“It is vital that continued efforts be made to engage, listen with respect, communicate effectively, and offer practical and targeted support to those who have yet to be vaccinated, given the direct benefit COVID-19 vaccination offers in terms of reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalisation and death,” the paper said. 

Levels of trust

It noted that levels of trust varied across Irish society: “Women, individuals under 40 years of age, those with lower educational attainment, unemployed individuals, those who fall in the DEF social grade, those living in Connacht-Ulster and non-Irish nationals are over-represented amongst the unvaccinated segment of the population.”

The paper said that Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy among people from some minority ethnic backgrounds has been linked to a lack of trust resulting from systemic racism and discrimination, negative experiences in the healthcare system, along with historical abuses such as the Tuskegee syphilis study.

However it also said that there has been an under representation of minorities in vaccine research.

The research also cautioned that there has been limited experience of enforcing vaccine mandates, with such programmes rare across the world. 

“Identifying those who remain unvaccinated raises privacy and data protection issues,” it added. 

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