Lead author of the advice, Vera Hoorens, a lecturer in social psychology at Leuven University, says the measure would mean the stigma around coronavirus would disappear and that would be the biggest advantage: “It’s becoming a disease about which people who haven’t got it think people who have are responsible for catching it. A stigma like that is bad for mental health, but also impacts on the number of people getting tested”.
Psychologists also point to the plight of health care workers for whom vaccination is mandatory, but who then have to give their all to treat those that are not obliged to get vaccinated.
“This creates a feeling of being second class as well as additional stress. If it was mandatory for all everybody would be equal” says Hoorens.
“At present anybody who can be persuaded by scientific argument has already had the jab. For many people it’s hard to see that vaccination helps. You need to be able look at hospital data with the mind of a statistician. People hear the hospitalisation figures, hear vaccinated people are ending up in hospital and make the wrong conclusion. They think the vaccine isn’t working. If a lot of people are vaccinated, some will end up in hospital.”
Prof Hoorens also believes mandatory vaccination would allow people who want to be vaxxed but can’t due to social pressure to get the jab.
As a disadvantage Hoorens identifies a “temporary, possible loss in confidence in the authorities” if vaccination becomes mandatory because the voluntary nature of vaccination has always been stressed.