May 5, 2020 / 3:11 PM / 23 days ago

False claim: the UK government has changed the law to make everyone get vaccinated against COVID-19

Social media users have shared links to a video which makes the incorrect claim that the UK government changed the law in the final week of April 2020 in order to make vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory.

A man jogs on Westminster bridge in front of the Houses of Parliament ahead of Parliament reopening while the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, London, Britain, April 21, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

A post (here) states: “Mandatory coronavirus vaccine in UK as of April 27, 2020. You should watch.”

It links to a YouTube video (here) in which the narrator states that the Control of Disease Act 1984 was updated on April 27, 2020.

According to the narrator, under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, patients suffering from communicable diseases can be “forced to take their medication by supervised administration or involuntary inpatient treatment”. 

The legislation can be found here (here) and it states the opposite. Section 45E reads:

“1. Regulations under section 45B or 45C may not include provision requiring a person to undergo medical treatment.

2. ‘Medical treatment’ includes vaccination and other prophylactic treatment.”

The sections referred to – 45B and 45C – relate to the measures a government can take to prevent the spread of infection or contamination either via international travel or domestically.

In an online article addressing the claim in the video, barrister Louise Hooper of Garden Court Chambers wrote that she had been unable to find any amendments of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 or Coronavirus Act 2020 made on 27 April 2020. (here).

Hooper told Reuters that she could not find any changes made on that date to any other regulations that might have been relevant.

In the article, she wrote: “There are multiple human rights and civil liberties implications both globally and domestically arising from the response to COVID-19 and the current crisis. Some of them are very real and concerning. Others are scaremongering and simply not true.”

The information in the YouTube video was “a misinterpretation or wrong” she said.

No vaccine has yet been approved against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, though more than 100 candidate vaccines are in development worldwide and a handful have advanced to human trials (here).

To compel everyone in the UK to be vaccinated would require a change in the law. However, at the British government’s daily press briefing on May 4, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he did not think a future COVID-19 vaccine would need to be made mandatory.

“I think the extent of the public’s reaction following the lockdown shows we will be able to achieve very, very high levels of vaccination without taking that step,” he said (here).

VERDICT

False. No changes to Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 or Coronavirus Act 2020 were made on 27 April 2020. Neither act currently permits making vaccination mandatory.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here

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