Towards a less voluntary vaccination policy in the Netherlands? Findings from an expert interview study

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The Netherlands traditionally favours a voluntary approach to vaccination. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic multiple European countries drastically altered their vaccination policies, which fuelled societal and political debate about the need to make the Dutch vaccination policy less voluntary, particularly by utilising pressure or coercion.

To provide insight in expert’s views on main normative issues concerning a less voluntary vaccination policy (for adults). Our study adds to the existing debate by addressing this topic from a multidisciplinary viewpoint.

We conducted 16 semi-structured interviews with legal, medical and ethical experts on the Dutch vaccination policy, between November 2021 and January 2022. We analysed interview transcripts through inductive coding.

Most experts believe a less voluntary vaccination policy is of added value under certain circumstances, as exemplified by the outbreak of COVID-19. For such a policy, a legislative approach might be most effective. However, different views exist on the desirability of a less voluntary approach. Main arguments in favour are based on epidemiological circumstances and a duty towards the collective health interest, whilst arguments against are based on the questionable necessity and adverse effectiveness of such policy.

If implemented, a less voluntary vaccination policy should be context-specific and take into account proportionality and subsidiarity. It is recommendable for governments to embed such policy (a priori) in flexible legislation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalHealth policy
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2023


  • COVID-19
  • Ethics
  • Legislation
  • Policy-making
  • Vaccination

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