Will there be compulsory vaccination in Latvia?

Missing context – incomparable things are being compared, the statement contradicts things said or done before, or it lacks important additional information

Executioners and fascists. These are the words that the most active disinformers on social media have used to frighten the public with the supposedly imminent forced vaccination by the World Health Organisation and general practitioners. There is no basis for their scaremongering. The prevalence of Covid-19 is low, there are no new threats at the moment and no restrictions that would suggest “forced vaccination” are currently planned.

A video by the former diplomat, now disinformation spreader, Rūdolfs Brēmanis, in which he talks about a seminar on vaccination for medical staff and claims that “Latvian executioners” are preparing medical staff for forced vaccination, has gained a lot of traction. His video has been viewed 180 000 times on TikTok and shared (in an edited form) 6000 times on Facebook.

In the video, Brēmanis talks about the two-day training, which happened at the end of August, and says:

“New propaganda for general practitioners.” 

It was a training seminar organised by the Center For Disease Prevention and Control (Slimību profilakses un kontroles centrs, SPKC). The topics of the seminar were “Communicating with patients about vaccination against Covid-19” and “Communicating with healthcare workers about vaccination against Covid-19”. The training modules were developed by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Regional Office for Europe. The SPKC spokesperson Ilze Arāja told Re:Check that the aim of the event was to support healthcare workers during the Covid-19 vaccination period. Part of the training was about improving the skills of healthcare workers in discussing vaccination with patients and basing their arguments on reliable sources of information and scientific facts to build the confidence of the patients in regards to vaccination. The seminar was also aimed at helping people working in healthcare facilities to further train other healthcare professionals and their colleagues to increase confidence in vaccination and to encourage patients to vaccinate.  

According to the Ministry of Health (MoH), the seminar in Rīga had only 34 participants in total, of which 10 were from health facilities. It should be noted that there are more than 1400 GPs in Latvia.

Brēmanis says that vaccination is being forced upon people, and continues:

“And there, on a 60-page presentation, it was shown how doctors will have to treat their patients to prepare them for forced vaccination.” 

First of all, in the seminar presentation (here) he mentioned, there is not a word about forced vaccination or any restrictions that would motivate unvaccinated people to get vaccinated. 

Secondly, the epidemiological situation in Latvia is far from a state where people should be “forced” to vaccinate by imposing any restrictions or using other instruments. The SPKC and the MoH also confirmed this to Re:Check.

According to the SPKC spokesperson Arāja, the current epidemiological situation of the Covid-19 pandemic in Latvia is favourable and the risk of infection is relatively low. This is reflected both in the SARS-CoV-2 virus levels monitored in sewage (more details here) and in the number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals (12-15 patients per week). During the summer months, the Centre received information on an average of one Covid-19 patient death per week (for context, during the most severe periods of the outbreak, there were dozens of reported deaths every 24 hours). In the last week of August, the number of hospital admissions doubled and, according to the SPKC, the seasonal increase in upper respiratory tract infections is expected to continue every year due to the time schoolchildren and employees spend indoors together with other people. However, current data on circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants does not suggest that the epidemiological situation will be so severe as to require additional precautionary measures. If the epidemiological situation worsens, individual protection against Covid-19 by wearing protective masks in indoor public places, especially for the elderly, people with chronic diseases and pregnant women, should be considered. However, the SPKC points out that this is likely to be a voluntary measure during this epidemic season, as it was last spring.

The SPKC explains that in autumn, at-risk groups will be offered state-funded vaccination against both Covid-19 and the flu. “Based on evidence-based information, it is not recommended to vaccinate the entire population. The focus is on at-risk groups,” says the MoH.

It is likely that the seminar gave reason for another video to be produced. There’s a man who says in Russian that “the WHO has started to the work of the devil again” and asks society to mobilise to prevent the supposedly imminent vaccination against Covid-19: 

“Will you raise your behind when it comes to children? But it is going that way! (..) You have the chance to tell your GP to ‘stop’! You are fascists, you are the destroyers of the nation. ”  

But the suggestion that there are plans to widely vaccinate children against Covid-19 has no basis. As mentioned above, children are also not a risk group for which vaccination against the disease in the autumn season is specifically recommended. 

For context – during the Covid-19 pandemic, vaccinated people were less prone to get severely sick and suffered fewer deaths. Re:Check has reported on this on several occasions, basing our claims on data. There is also no reason to talk about the “plandemic”. Covid-19 is a real disease that has claimed around 15 million lives worldwide. Several thousand people have died of Covid-19 in Latvia, significantly increasing the overall mortality rate.

Conclusion: During the seminar, GPs were not being prepared for “forced vaccination”. The epidemiological situation currently is not, and is not predicted to be, so severe as to require restrictions or other measures that could in any way be considered as “forced vaccination”. Precautionary measures may be decided upon as the epidemiological situation changes, but, according to the authorities, at present the forecasts do not suggest that they will be necessary. The Ministry of Health says that evidence-based information affirms that vaccination of the whole population is not recommended at this stage, but that the emphasis is on at-risk groups. There are also no plans to compulsorily vaccinate children.

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