STA, 10 September 2020 - The parliamentary Health Committee unanimously endorsed on Thursday amendments to the act on communicable diseases under which unvaccinated children would be barred from public or publicly financed kindergartens. The committee however threw out a provision on mandatory vaccination against seasonal flu for health workers.
The bill had been proposed by a group of 38 MPs from the ranks of three coalition parties, the Modern Centre Party (SMC), Democrats (SDS) and Pensioners' Party (DeSUS).
The bill is fast-tracked and all the additional amendments were proposed by MPs of the initiator parties. It would require all children who enrol in public kindergartens or private kindergartens co-financed by the state to get mandatory vaccination.
The same rule would apply to students of secondary and tertiary schools teaching health, education and social security courses.
Today's additional amendments specify that mandatory vaccination includes shots against measles, mumps and rubella.
The restrictions would not be imposed on children who cannot get vaccinated due to health reasons. Today, such an exemption was further specified by requiring that health records indicating the reason for missing out on vaccination would have to be submitted.
Unvaccinated children would still be allowed to enrol in primary school since primary education is mandatory under the law.
In August, when the bill was proposed, the Health Ministry said the measure was meant to prevent any unwarranted avoidance of vaccination and to protect citizens.
SMC MP Branislav Rajić, the first signatory of the proposal, said today that the provision that would require all those working in public health and social institutions to get vaccinated against seasonal influenza had been thrown out since experts and the government thought the measure was too excessive.
He nevertheless urged the government and the ZZZS health fund to provide free-of-charge flu vaccination for such workers.
Tina Bregant, the ministry's state secretary, said today that the extra amendments had made the proposal even more efficient, highlighting that the bill aimed to increase the rate of immunisation.
The National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ), Medical Chamber as well as representatives of paediatricians have expressed support for the proposed changes.
On the other hand, Jani Möderndorfer, an MP of the opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), was critical of the scrapping of the provision under which health and social workers would be obliged to get a flu shot. Experts, the ministry and coalition "do not offer any expert reason for that; all they talk about is how the measure is excessive," he said.
Rajić reiterated that the move followed the guidelines of experts. "My personal view is that a health worker who does not get a vaccine is like a visually-impaired school bus driver who does not want to wear glasses," he added.
Meanwhile, the Social Democrats (SD), New Slovenia (NSi) and the Left called for a strategy that would raise awareness about the importance of vaccination.