Q&A – Can an employee refuse a vaccination?

Influenza, tetanus, hepatitis... there are vaccines to protect us against many diseases. But what if an employee refuses a preventive vaccination? Can you force someone to accept a vaccination shot?

The answer to that question depends on two factors: the function performed by the employee and the disease against which the vaccine protects.

Compulsory vaccines for high-risk groups

In some sectors, employees are exposed to specific risks These include waste collectors, who work in an environment teeming with germs, or nurses, who are exposed to viruses at work. To protect them from diseases and to prevent contamination, they must be required to receive certain vaccinations.

In Belgium, two vaccinations and a test may be legally required: the tetanus and hepatitis B vaccinations and the tuberculosis test. The table below indicates the sectors where the vaccines are mandatory. For a detailed overview of these sectors, please refer to page 42 of the Codex at the Federal Public Service Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue (Dutch or French).

Mandatory vaccine or testSectors
TetanusAgricultural and horticultural companies, (poultry) livestock companies, waste processing companies
Tuberculosis testHealth care and laboratories where there is a risk of contact with tuberculosis
Hepatitis BHealth care, laboratories, dental practices


The obligation is twofold: as an employer, you must offer the vaccine or test, and employees must accept the vaccination or test. Ideally, you should not force them; rather, they should understand the added value of doing it. It is therefore advisable to inform your team clearly and bust any myths on vaccines. To convince them with good arguments, you should read our blog. If an employee refuses to do so, he or she cannot continue to occupy the function for which the vaccine or test is mandatory.

Non-compulsory vaccines can also be very useful. Preventive vaccinations are therefore strongly recommended for certain high-risk groups. For example, vaccination against hepatitis A is recommended for employees who come into contact with waste water or work with children younger than 6 years. Hepatitis B vaccination is common among firefighters.

Offering and encouraging vaccination helps prevent absenteeism and reduces the risk of contagion. It is one of the simplest, fastest and safest ways to prevent infectious diseases. But with the exception of the two mandatory inoculations and the tuberculosis test, you cannot force your employees to take them.

Watch over the health of your employees

Find out how you can protect your employees optimally by offering them the right vaccines. Read more on vaccinations in our blog or contact us by phone on +32 2 549 71 00 or e-mail at health@mensura.be.

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