Vaccine mandates for healthcare workers beyond COVID-19
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While the continuing discussion on vaccine mandates is most welcome, one thing that struck me as needing more attention being dedicate to is how do we cater to workers vaccine preferences and what are the corresponding duties of employers to provide such vaccines. As I have argued elsewhere (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/20502877.2021.1959789) there is a part of the population that is not in principle opposed to vaccination in general, but might have objections to specific vaccines. Whether or not we accept vaccine mandates as ethical perhaps we need to discuss what employers should be doing to promote vaccination. While some of the authors of this paper have argued elsewhere (https://academic.oup.com/phe/article/14/3/242/6324053?login=true) that the only thing that matters is that the vaccine given is effective, particularly when a vaccine mandate is being put in place there seems to be an obligation to reduce the burden of that mandate on the workers. What I would wish to see is more debate on the obligations of employers (and the wider health service) to provide vaccines that staff deem personally acceptable. Even if there are no mandates, this might increase vaccination uptake. To return to the article at hand, it would be good if we had alternatives to influenza vaccines that were not made in he...Show More
Utilitarian ‘ethics’, as employed in this article, implicitly rejects all absolute values and associated rights, allowing for limited transgression of rights (including the right to life) for the sake of contemporaneous ‘benefits’ outweighing the ‘costs’. I maintain that this is a self-defeating paradigm; without absolute values there is no objective measure of benefits and costs, therefore no rational basis for the judgement of proportionality. In short, the utilitarian argument is logically circular and vicious. Once the veneer of proportionality is revealed as objectively ungrounded, utilitarian ethics amounts to little more than a public relations strategy for legitimising arbitrary exercises of power.
The argument from proportionality (benefits vs costs) cannot justify arbitrary violations of the right to life or the removal of the right to free medical consent, for the following reasons.
1. Vaccine mandates imply that all humans are born in a defective, inherently harmful state that must be biotechnologically augmented to allow their unrestricted participation in society, and this constitutes discrimination on the basis of healthy, innate characteristics of the human race. (This point derives from my paper published here: https://jme.bmj.com/content/48/4/240).
2. Medical consent must be free – not coerced – in order to be valid. Any discrimination against the unvaccinated is economic or social op...Show More