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Compulsory COVID-19 Vaccination? Only As A Policy Of Last Resort, Argues Bioethics Graduate

Many of us desire the end of the pandemic. Could implementing universal compulsory vaccination be the solution? In a Voices in Bioethics article, Gyan Moorthy, ('21SPS, Bioethics) states that this should be implemented as only a policy of last resort. Alternatives such as educational initiatives and tax credits must be weighed first.

For example, requiring vaccination could be struck down on “the basis of the 14th Amendment equal protection clause, which includes a right to privacy and a right to refuse unwanted medical treatment.” Furthermore, compulsory vaccination could cause a loss of social cohesion and deepen mistrust of the scientific community. 

Moorthy supported this point with people who are apprehensive about the COVID-19 vaccine due to the speed at which it was developed. “It is inappropriate for the release of a vaccine to be immediately accompanied by policies requiring members of the general public to receive that vaccine. Every reasonable alternative must be exhausted before such policies are implemented, not only because they touch an issue so central in a free society…, but also because of the practical obstacles, including inevitable legal challenges and widespread anger and resentment that could undermine the country’s ability to effectively combat this crisis and the crises that lie ahead.”

Moorthy concludes with a suggestion: U.S. states should create tiered goals for vaccination and use various interventions, best fit for their constituents, to communicate to the public and decrease people’s concerns.

To read more about the tiered goals, read Moorthy’s entire article in the Voices in Bioethics journal.