Document Type : Commentary
Department of Public Health Experimental and Forensic Medicine, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
Collegio Ca’ della Paglia, Fondazione Ghislieri, Pavia, Italy
The debate around vaccine mandates has flourished over the last decade, with several countries introducing or extending mandatory childhood vaccinations. In a recent study, Attwell and Hannah explore how functional and political pressures added to public health threats in selected countries, motivating governments to increase the coerciveness of their childhood vaccine regimes. In this commentary, we reflect on whether such model applies to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) case and how the pandemic has re-shuffled the deck around vaccine mandates. We identify COVID-19 immunisation policies’ distinctive aspects as we make the case of countries implementing mass immunisation programmes while relying on digital COVID-19 certificates as an indirect form of mandate to increase vaccine uptake. We conclude by acknowledging that different forms of mandatory vaccination might serve as a shortcut to protect population health in times of emergency, underlining, however, that the ultimate public health goal is to promote voluntary, informed, and responsible adherence to preventive behaviours.