November 20, 2009
By Keith Falkiner
GOVERNMENT plans to introduce compulsory vaccinations for swine flu could see people JAILED if they refuse to take it.
Stringent pandemic laws open to the Department of Health allow it to enforce compulsory vaccinations against a serious outbreak of swine flu — with stiff fines or a six-month stretch in prison for those who avoid taking the jab.
The Department of Health has said it is satisfied it can enact legislation provided in the 1947 Health Act – which include compulsory vaccinations quarantine and travel bans – to deal with a pandemic.
A HSE spokeswoman said: “The position is that the Department is satisfied that the provisions in 1947 Health Act for the control and management of infectious diseases, gives it sufficient powers to deal with a pandemic outbreak.”
The Act also states that anyone who willfully obstructs the execution of a regulation – such as compulsory vaccination – shall be liable for conviction in court.
A source told Star Sunday that the Department of Health is on the verge of making the swine flu vaccine compulsory for everybody in the country next month.
The source said: “‘They are seriously considering making the vaccination compulsory as it could be the on way to make it work.”
Swine flu is already starting to spread in Ireland with confirmed cases found at three separate schools. A total of 91 people havebeen hospitalised with the virus.
Pharmacists across Ireland are currently in training so that they can administer the vaccine once the first batches become available.
But the Government could be hit with massive compensation claims if those forced to get the vaccination have bad reactions to it.
The Department of Health has said the State will pay any compensation claims against the drug companies supplying swine flu vaccines to Ireland, including Baxter International, which has previously been associated with two deadly scandals.
The first occurred in the 1980s when haemophiliac components were contaminated with HIV and injected into tens of thousands of people, including children.
The second event occurred more recently in February this year, when Baxter released a seasonal flu vaccine containing the bird flu virus, which could have produced a real world pandemic.
However, health officials have said that no significant adverse reactions to the vaccine, are expected and nobody would be offered the jab if the risk outweighed the benefit.