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Compulsory vaccination protects autonomy


In a recent article in this journal, Kowalik argues that compulsory vaccination unjustifiably infringes on the autonomy of vaccine refusers. While accepting Kowalik’s central premises, we argue that, when appropriately expanded in scope, autonomy considerations do not undermine the justifiability of compulsory vaccination. Vulnerable individuals—including the very old, the very young and those with compromised immune systems—face an omnipresent risk of contracting a potentially fatal vaccine-preventable illness and are thus prevented from accessing public goods by coercive pressure. Consequently, when we consider an appropriately broad scope of autonomy constraints, autonomy considerations do not undermine the case for mandating vaccination.

  • Autonomy
  • Communicable Diseases
  • Ethics

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