Should individual rights (e.g., parents’ right to decide whether to vaccinate their children) be compromised to control the spread of communicable diseases for the good of society?
discussion. The childcare facility requirements/guidelines are every child must be vaccinated to attend this specific school. He was told a few schools in the community excepted exemptions for vaccinations, however not this school.
The definition of vaccination is to administer a injection to help the immune system develop protection from disease (Wikipedia, 2021). Vaccines contain a virus in a weakened, live, or killed state or proteins or toxins from the organism. Vaccines help prevent sickness from infectious disease by stimulating the body’s adaptive immunity. When a large percentage of a population is vaccinated, herd immunity results. Herd immunity protects those who may be immunocompromised and cannot get a vaccine because even a weakened version would harm them (Wikipedia, 2021). The vaccination policy in the United States is a subgroup of the U. S. health policy that deals with immunization against infectious disease.
I feel the individual rights of the parents who made a conscious decision not to vaccinate their child should not be persecuted. The parents’ decision should be respected, but when the decision to not vaccinate their child may negatively affect the lives of others, the parents should be held accountable legally and financially. A population that is appropriately vaccinated against highly infectious diseases is a common good to its members’ very society. Is it ethical to subject my child to the risk associated with receiving vaccines, and another parent is hesitant or refuses to have their child vaccinated? Is it right for that child to reap the benefits of herd immunity? The “herd immunity” or “community immunity” is fragile for measles. It does not take many unvaccinated individuals to approach the tipping point at which vaccine coverage levels are low, resulting in increased preventable infection levels (Hendrix et al., 2016). Many parents choose not to vaccinate their children, which is globally causing a resurgence in vaccine-preventable diseases. Parents are hesitant to vaccinate because religious beliefs are usually linked to the refusal of all vaccines or personal beliefs. Some parents believe natural immunity is better and more effective than immunity acquired from vaccinations. Safety concerns are the most significant reason parents are hesitant and refusing to vaccinate their children, especially with the known link between vaccines and autism. The desire for additional information causes hesitancy and refusal because parents feel more in-depth information about the vaccines should be accessible to review, enabling them to make better-informed decisions (Akoum, 2019).
In the United States, many safety precautions are required by law to help ensure that the vaccines we receive are reliable and safe. COVID-19 vaccinations have been administered in many communities across the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2021), more than 96.4 million doses of vaccines from three different companies (Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna) have been delivered to healthcare centers across the country (CDC, 2021). About 76.9 million Vaccines are administered to millions of people. These vaccines have to be approved by the FDA and are held to extremely high safety standards (Vaccine.gov. 2021).
The question is to what extent the state should be allowed to impose on its citizens’ liberties at the pretext of preserving the common good reflects the position the school board is facing right now. The circumstances are not unique to the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine, and it reflects the century’s long conflict surrounding public health in the United States. The government’s public vaccination policy makes it mandatory for all citizens, children, and adults alike to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus. However, the Supreme Court’s recent pronunciation on health and individual rights has favored the protection of individual rights over the state, especially the importance of informed consent before the commencement of an essential public health exercise. Informed consent, in this case, is phenomenal, as the children are required to be vaccinated below the age of 18 years (Bayer, 2007). Thus by law, the school ought to have the parents’ consent before giving permission to proceed to the vaccination exercise. The situation the school finds itself in is tricky because the vaccination exercise is to be conducted at the school premises. Allowing the exercise to proceed without parents’ consent could open the school to litigation while disengaging from the exercise could lead to loss of lives and severe backlash from the state. Considering all the factors, the school should allow the vaccination exercise to proceed because coronavirus is an infectious disease, and absconding can lead to the loss of lives and endanger other students and the community.
Individual rights should be compromised to preserve overall public health because COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease, and upholding individual rights may lead to the loss of lives and endanger other community members. This is because coronavirus has led loss of millions of lives and is spreading at an alarming pace, killing millions of Americans. The fact that it is widespread and a worldwide concern warrant the government to use police powers to facilitate the successful rollout of the vaccination exercise (Contreras, et al., 2011). This is because the COVID-19 pandemic has severe health implications such as loss of lives, placed millions in hospitals due to its high severity, and its high transmission rate. These three factors imply that the disease overrides individual privacy needs. It goes beyond that; requiring the school to obtain informed consent is equivalent to writing a death sentence as a delay of even a day could mean thousands being exposed to the virus hundreds of deaths. The vaccine, therefore, stands as the last resort the public has to defeat the coronavirus, it has been proven, and tests have shown that it is safe to use. Thus, public health officials ought to be given leeway to conduct the vaccination exercise.
However, public health officials ought not to be given a wider breadth than necessary in exercising their mandate. Individual rights such as the right to information privacy ought to be safeguarded (Cassileth, et al., 1980). The information of children and any data thereof should not be listed in public registries without prior content as it is akin to the violation of doctor-patient confidentiality. It is also crucial for public health officials and the state to guarantee the safety of the vaccination exercise and be willing to accept responsibility for any negative implications the vaccine has on children’s health before the commencement of the exercise.
Bayer, R. (2007). The continuing tensions between individual rights and public health: Talking point on public health versus civil liberties. EMBO reports, 8(12), 1099-1103.
Cassileth, B. R., Zupkis, R. V., Sutton-Smith, K., & March, V. (1980). Informed consent—why are its goals imperfectly realized?. New England journal of medicine, 302(16), 896-900.
Contreras, J. L. (2011). Public Health Versus Personal Liberty–The Uneasy Case for Individual Detention, Isolation and Quarantine. The SciTech Lawyer, 7(4).