30.12.2020, Berlin: Ein Bundeswehr-Soldat läuft durch das Corona-Impfzentrum in der Arena. Foto: Paul Zinken/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

Corona vaccination remains mandatory for Bundeswehr soldiers. The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig on Thursday dismissed the complaints of two Air Force officers against the inclusion of the Covid 19 vaccination in the list of mandatory vaccinations. Among other things, the plaintiffs saw their basic right to physical integrity violated by the regulation and demanded that the vaccination be removed from the list, but were unsuccessful in doing so.

The regulation is legal, said the first military service senate. The Federal Ministry of Defense may determine the necessary vaccinations for the Bundeswehr, because all soldiers are obliged to keep themselves healthy in the interest of fulfilling their military mission. They would have to tolerate measures to prevent communicable diseases even against their will. The Ministry did not exceed its discretion.

According to the presiding judge Richard Häußler, when the decree came in November, the corona situation was “very serious”. Incidences have increased, the Delta variant, which is even more dangerous than Omicron, has prevailed, and there is concern that hospital capacities will not be sufficient. The recommendations of the experts and scientists also gave politicians a warning signal, so that they saw the need for soldiers to be vaccinated.

The Federal Constitutional Court also shared this assessment when it declared compulsory vaccination in nursing and medicine to be constitutional at the end of April. “We have agreed with this assessment,” said Häußler. According to the court, the vaccination could only reduce the risk of infection and transmission, but at the same time reduced the risk of a severe course by 90 percent.

During the hearing, the Senate also heard experts from the Paul Ehrlich Institute, among others. He then agreed that the vaccination also had a relevant protective effect against the omicron variant. The positive effect clearly outweighs the risk. According to the current recommendation of the Robert Koch Institute, this also applies to younger adults under the age of 60.

However, the ministry must evaluate and monitor the vaccination requirement, the court demanded. Permanent orders must always be checked to see whether they are still proportionate and discretionary in view of changed circumstances. Before further booster vaccinations are ordered, the findings should therefore be weighed again, because the danger of the virus is decreasing and the vaccines currently available are becoming less effective.

Since the end of November, soldiers have been obliged to tolerate the corona vaccination, provided there are no medical reasons to do so. The plaintiffs argued that, from their point of view, the vaccination had not been sufficiently researched and did not prevent infection or disease.

When the verdict was announced, Häußler said that although side effects could occur and there were gaps in the data collection, the court came to the conclusion in its assessment that the benefits of the vaccination outweighed the negative ones. At the start of the negotiations in May, he had already made it clear that the decision in the present case only affected the two plaintiff officers. Further proceedings by soldiers from different units on the subject are pending before the Federal Administrative Court.