This was quite an interesting debating topic as I was given the position of arguing FOR the statement. After completing my research I felt as though I was in slight disagreement with the statement, however I didn’t feel I had any strong opinions on the matter. During the debate I gave my points to support the debate topic, which were all voted in favour for at the end. However, afterwards I discussed this ethical issue with a doctor and now I feel as though I have a strong moral stance on this topic. I understand why some people may believe that the vaccinations should be compulsary, but I personally disagree with this on the basis that forcing somebody to take a vaccine, or giving a child one without consent defeats the principle of Autonomy in Medical Ethics. I’ll explain my opinions and my reasoning for choosing to be against this statement in more detail. I think this quote is a nice summary of vaccination choice today. We are able to control our decision, but the outcome of taking it/not taking it can be good or bad, but is unknown to us:
You are free to choose, but you are not free to alter the consequences of your decisions.”
― Ezra Taft Benson
- It’s a natural way to stimulate our immune system to fight disease.
- Prevention is better than cure and a vaccine is the best way to prevent the outbreak of disease.
- Compulsory vaccines have greatly reduced or eradicated some of the worlds most devastating diseases, such as small pox, polio, measles.
- Immunisation does not simply benefit the individual by protecting them from disease; it also provides benefit to the whole population.
- By allowing certain children to be unvaccinated against a disease, they’re not just posing as a threat to themselves, but also others around them and this isn’t fair
- Refusing vaccines is an irresponsible act and can lead to the spread of disease, this can be seen with the outbreaks of measles in parts of London where childhood vaccination rates have dropped sharply in recent years, resulting in unnecessary suffering, some deaths and permanent disabilities.
- Vaccinations protect citizens and the country from the negative economic effects of diseases
- Parents and other adults have a duty to protect children, by not vaccinating them you are putting them at a much higher risk of unnecessary suffering
- According to the UK Health Protection Agency (HPA), vaccination is the second most effective public health intervention worldwide (after clean water) for saving lives and promoting good health
- Doctors have a duty not to harm others. It can be argued that knowingly risking infecting your patients when prevention is possible amounts to a culpable omission of care.
- The new NHS Constitution also contains a ‘patient responsibility’ to take part in public health programmes, such as vaccination.
- Childhood vaccinations ensure children are protected from outcomes of decisions that they were not able to make themselves.
- Is there a moral and social obligation to vaccinate in order to protect the wider community?
- Each year, millions of children under the age of five, die from vaccine preventable diseases.
- Commonly-used vaccines are a cost-effective and preventive way of promoting health, compared to the treatment of acute or chronic disease.
- Herd immunity cannot be used as an excuse as if every parent took the attitude of ‘I don’t have to vaccinate my child as they’ll still be protected because everyone else will’ it could lead to very dangerous outcomes.
- We have the right to choose.
- Vaccines are not safe for everybody. Every individual has different DNA, vaccines aren’t tailor made.
- What works well in one child may have shocking results with other children. Unfortunately there is no money to be made for the pharmaceutical companies to make a vaccination that suits the individual.
- There are transmittable diseases that have reached epidemic proportion in the world that have NO vaccine to stop it, so to support the overall well being of the population do we then eradicate these people?
- Some vaccines such as the flu vaccine, have been said to be injurious or even fatal at rare instances.
- Although it’s rare, any child could be the one out of a thousand that has severe reactions.
- Shouldn’t we respect people’s religious beliefs or opinions on the matter?
- Some children many have allergies to the contents of the vaccine. If we allow them to break the rule, there’ll other cases which will also emerge and need to be considered.
- It would not be practical to force people to have a vaccine.
- Herd immunity means that not every child has to be vaccinated in order for them to be protected.
Overall, vaccinations are considered to be a very effective method of preventing suffering and have proven to be successful in maintaining public health. The side effects are very rare, only a small proportion of people have allergies to them and even then these effects are thought be much more bearable than the impact that would be had if a person was to contract the disease itself. However, it is considered to be unethical to force somebody to take a vaccination without their consent, especially since it isn’t exactly necessary as herd immunity will protect the minority who haven’t been vaccinated.