Open Access

Health Security in a Democratic State: Child Vaccination – Legal Obligation Versus the Right to Express Consent for a Medical Intervention


One of the major objectives in a democratic state is ensuring health security of the citizens including combating epidemic diseases. The subject matter of this article is the presentation and analysis of legal regulations regarding preventive vaccination in Poland, in particular the aspect of imposing a legal obligation and restricting parents’ right to express consent for medical intervention. The reflections made herein are aimed at finding an answer to the question whether the adopted legal solutions are admissible in a democratic state with regard to ensuring health security. The purpose of the analysis is also to assess whether the abovementioned legal regulations have been formulated in a clear way and do not raise interpretation doubts and, consequently, whether they are comprehensible to the parents obliged to comply with them.

As it follows from analysis of the legal provisions, parents must not refuse to subject a child to obligatory preventive vaccination and their consent is not required by law, both as regards the medical qualifying examination to exclude contraindications to performing vaccination and the vaccination itself. It is a legal obligation, from which exemption is only possible on grounds of certain medical conditions that would render vaccination inadvisable.

The legal provisions that concern obligatory preventive vaccination in Poland, including in particular those referring to its enforceability, have not been formulated in a way that is sufficiently comprehensible to parents who are under the obligation of complying with them, irrespective of the fact that the language of the provisions of law should be clear and raise no interpretative doubts.

In a democratic state the protection of public health against epidemic hazards justifies the implementation of legal solutions that restrict an individual’s freedom of self-determination, thus limiting the right of patients or their statutory representatives to grant or refuse consent for a medical intervention in the form of preventive vaccination – the purpose of this legal solution being to prioritize the safeguarding of state health security.

It is vitally important to engage in a social dialogue with the purpose of convincing the public of the need for vaccination, its significance and its implementation for the better good.

Publication timeframe:
4 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Philosophy, other