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Estonian court: Defense Forces vaccination requirement legally groundless

QR code for a COVID-19 vaccination certificate displayed on a smartphone.
QR code for a COVID-19 vaccination certificate displayed on a smartphone. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

A 2021 order issued by the commander of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) requiring employees and servicemembers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 had no legal basis, a first-tier court ruled Friday.

Tartu Administrative Court ruled Friday to satisfy a collective appeal filed by members of the EDF, finding that the EDF commander's Order No. 162, issued August 31, 2021, was illegal insofar as it required servicemembers and employees to get vaccinated against COVID.

The court found that there was no legal basis for imposing vaccination requirements with an internal administrative regulation, and that the obligation to vaccinate cannot be considered a proportionate measure either.

It explained in its ruling that while the requirement imposed by the order cannot strictly be considered compulsory vaccination, it is nonetheless equal to that in effect.

For a healthy person who hasn't contracted the illness, the obligation to provide a vaccination certificate essentially amounts to compulsory vaccination, as vaccination is a prerequisite for a continued service relationship. As acquiring this certificate effectively necessitated individuals who haven't had COVID to get vaccinated against it, the court found that the order in question was essentially aimed at forcing people to get vaccinated.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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