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Persuasion, not coercion or incentivisation, is the best means of promoting COVID-19 vaccination
  1. Susan Pennings1,
  2. Xavier Symons2
  1. 1 Department of Philosophy, Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
  2. 2 Plunkett Centre for Ethics, The Australian Catholic University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Xavier Symons, Plunkett Centre for Ethics, Australian Catholic University, Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia; xavier.symons{at}


Savulescu (forthcoming) argues that it may be ethically acceptable for governments to require citizens be vaccinated against COVID-19. He also recommends that governments consider providing monetary or in-kind incentives to citizens to increase vaccination rates. In this response, we argue against mandatory vaccination and vaccine incentivisation, and instead suggest that targeted public health messaging and a greater responsiveness to the concerns of vaccine-hesitant individuals would be the best strategy to address low vaccination rates.

  • COVID-19
  • public health ethics
  • coercion
  • informed consent
  • public policy

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  • Contributors SP produced the first draft of this response article. XS edited the draft and wrote the discussion of alternative strategies to address vaccine hesitancy.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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