To have adequate protection against the disease, vaccines against covid-19 should be given to most people from all the world.
Only through widespread vaccination will we achieve herd immunity, in which enough people sean immune to prevent the disease from spreading freely.
To achieve this, Some experts suggest that vaccinations should be mandatory. But with the high rates of skepticismversus the immunization against covid-19, is this the correct decision?
Here, two experts give arguments in favor and in against from mandatory vaccinations.
Alberto Giubilini, Senior Researcher of the Uehiro Center for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford
The covid-19 vaccine should be mandatory, at least for certain groups. This means there would be penalties for not getting vaccinated, such as fines or limitations on freedom of movement.
The less burdensome it is for an individual to do something that prevents harm to others, and the greater the harm prevented, the stronger the ethical reason for imposing it.
Being vaccinated dramatically reduces your risk of seriously harming or killing other people.
Vaccines like Pfizer, AstraZeneca, or Moderna, 90-95% effective in preventing people from getting sick, are also likely to be effective in stopping the spread of the virus, although possibly to a lesser degree.
These benefits would have minimal cost to individuals.
Confinement is mandatory. Exactly like mandatory vaccination, it protects vulnerable people from covid-19.
But, as I have argued in detail elsewhere, unlike mandatory vaccination, confinement involves very large individual and social costs.
It is inconsistent to accept the mandatory block but reject the mandatory vaccination. The latter can achieve a much greater good at a much lower cost.
Furthermore, compulsory vaccination ensures that the risks and burdens of achieving herd immunity are evenly distributed among the population.
Because herd immunity benefits society collectively, it is fair that the responsibility for achieving it is shared equitably among individual members of society.
Of course, we could achieve herd immunity through less restrictive alternatives than making vaccination mandatory, such as information campaigns to encourage people to get vaccinated.
But even if we do achieve herd immunity, the higher the vaccine absorption, the lower the risk of falling below the herd immunity threshold at a later time.
We must do everything possible to prevent such an emergency from occurring, especially when the cost of doing so is low.
Building trust and driving buy-in by making people more informed is a good narrative, but it’s risky.
Simply giving people information about vaccines does not always increase willingness to get vaccinated and, in fact, may decrease confidence in vaccines.
On the other hand, we have seen mandatory vaccination policies in Italy that recently successfully spurred the adoption of vaccines for other diseases.
Mandatory seatbelt policies have proven very successful in reducing deaths from motor vehicle accidents and are now widely supported despite the (very small) risks that seatbelts bring.
We should see vaccines as seat belts against covid-19. In fact, as very special seat belts, which protect us and protect others.
Vageesh Jain, Clinical Scholar in Public Health Medicine at the National Institute for Health Research of the University College London
Mandatory vaccination does not automatically increase vaccine delivery.
An EU-funded project on epidemics and pandemics, which took place several years before COVID-19, found no evidence to support this idea.
As for the Baltic and Scandinavian countries, the project report noted that countries “where vaccination is mandatory do not usually achieve better coverage than neighboring or similar countries where there is no legal obligation.”
According to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, mandatory vaccination may be justified for serious and highly contagious diseases.
But although it is contagious, the Public Health Service in England does not classify COVID-19 as a serious infectious disease, due to its relatively low fatality rate.
The severity of covid-19 is strongly related to age, which divides individual perceptions of vulnerability within populations.
The mortality rate is estimated at 7.8% in people older than 80 years, but only 0.0016% in children nine years of age or younger.
In a liberal democracy, forcing the vaccination of millions of young, healthy citizens who are perceived to be acceptably low risk for COVID-19 will be ethically contested and politically risky.
Doubts about a new vaccine produced at breakneck speed are entirely legitimate.
A UK survey of 70,000 people found that 49% had “muchas odds ”of receiving a vaccine from covid-19 once that was available. American polls are similar.
This is not because most are anti-vaccines.
Despite the promising headlines, the trials and pharmaceutical processes surrounding vaccines have yet to be analyzed.
Since the first trials began in April, there is limited data on long-term safety and efficacy. We do not know how long immunity lasts.
None of the trials were designed to tell us whether the vaccine prevents the transmission of viruses or serious diseases.
Ignoring these existing concerns would be counterproductive.
As a tool to combat anti-vaccines, estimated at around 58 million worldwide and constituting a small minority of people who do not get vaccinated, mandatory vaccines are also problematic.
The forces that drive scientific and political populism are the same. Anti-vaccines don’t trust experts, industry, and even less government.
Not only will a government mandate run into unwavering opposition, it will also be used as a weapon to recruit others for the anti-vaccine cause.
In the early 1990s, polio was endemic in India, leaving between 500 and 1,000 children paralyzed daily.
By 2011, the virus had been removed. This was not achieved through legislation. It was all due to a consolidated effort to engage communities, target high-need groups, understand concerns, inform, educate, remove barriers, invest in local service delivery systems, and establish links with political and religious leaders.
Mandatory vaccination is rarely justified. Successful deployment of new covid-19 vaccines will require time, communication, and trust. We have come too far, too fast, to lose our cool now.
* These views were originally published in an English article on The Conversation, which you can read here.
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