The Commission for Prevention and Protection against Discrimination, deciding on a complaint of a parent for discrimination on the basis of vaccination status, ie personal status, decided that mandatory vaccination of children as a condition for enrolment in primary schools does not constitute discrimination on any grounds.

The Commission adopted a general recommendation stating that laws, measures, recommendations, and other relevant acts aimed at preventing, treating and controlling the situation of epidemic, endemic and other diseases do not constitute a violation of the right to privacy of the individual, his personal and family life and of dignity and reputation. They are aimed at guaranteeing the protection of the public good and public health of all citizens, especially children. The Convention on the Rights of the Child guarantees the “best interests of the child” with regard to all activities undertaken concerning children, whether undertaken by public institutions, courts, governing bodies or legislatures. Additionally, in the case of VAVŘIČKA and others v. The Czech Republic (no. 47621/13), the ECtHR notes the existence of a general consensus that vaccination is one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions and that every country should aim to achieve the highest possible level of vaccination among its population.

In the case at hand, the parent filed a complaint of discrimination against the municipal primary school “St. Kliment Ohridski” from Skopje. The school refused to enrol her child due to a lack of confirmation that all mandatory primary school vaccinations had been received. The submitter cites media articles in which the Ministry of Education states that “no child should be left out of the education system” and that the Constitution states that primary education is compulsory. Additionally, the applicant cites as an argument the Ombudsman’s Annual Report from 2018, which in another similar case claims that it is “extremely discriminatory and against the law for the school to act because it refused to enrol in the first grade due to the fact that the child was not vaccinated and received of all mandatory vaccines. ” She also emphasizes the fact that primary education is compulsory under the Law on Primary Education, that the right to education is universal in accordance with a number of international documents and agreements, and also cites a judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, the Salveti case. v. Italy (no. 42197/98), which established that involuntary vaccination is contrary to Article 8 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

The school responded that the Commission for enrolment of students in the first grade established at the school, in the enrolment period for the event in question, refused to enrol the student based on the fact that there was a lack of confirmation of the mandatory vaccines. The decision was immediately notified to the parent, after which the parent informed the school that she was against vaccination and that she would not vaccinate her child. In this regard, it is noted that according to Article 46 paragraph 2 of the Law on Primary Education, a child cannot be enrolled without a certificate for mandatory vaccinations. The State Education Inspectorate also inspected the work and concluded that the school did not act contrary to the legal norms.

The Commission for Prevention and Protection Against Discrimination considers that in the specific case there is no violation of the right to equality, ie the primary school Ss. Kliment Ohridski from Skopje did not discriminate on the basis of personal status against the applicant in terms of the Law on Prevention and Protection against Discrimination. The primary school acted in accordance with the law, measures and recommendations of the competent authorities aimed at protecting public health.

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