Voluntary Vaccination: The Pandemic Effect
Legal Studies 37(2) 279-305, 2017, DOI: 10.1111/lest.12144
Posted: 3 Dec 2016 Last revised: 10 Jun 2017
Date Written: December 1, 2016
Justification of a voluntary vaccination policy in England and Wales rests on tenuous foundations. Two arguments against voluntary vaccination are gaining ground. The first is that globalisation necessitates preparedness strategies for pandemics. Assuming sufficient supply, compulsory vaccination of adults and children constitutes a potential policy option in the context of a severe, vaccine-preventable pandemic outbreak. The second argument is that children have a right to preventive medicine and thus to vaccination. The influence of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and its emphasis on parents as the trustees of their children's best interests, and the increasingly global nature of our collective and individual responsibilities with respect to the transmission of vaccine-preventable disease present challenges to the right to refuse vaccination on our own behalf and on behalf of our children. Exploring methods of compulsion and persuasion utilised across Europe, the USA and Australia, this paper argues that necessity and proportionality must be reassessed, and national public health law and policy setting out a graduated and proportionate approach to compulsory vaccination developed as a matter of priority.
Keywords: Public Health, Vaccination, Compulsion, Consent, Pandemic, Epidemic, Best Interests
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