Why vaccination should be compulsory


We are now seeing a very similar situation with vaccination. Brytney Cobia recently posted on Facebook the following account of her experiences working as a doctor in Birmingham, Alabama:

“I’m admitting young healthy people to the hospital with very serious COVID infections. One of the last things they do before they’re intubated is beg me for the vaccine. I hold their hand and tell them that I’m sorry, but it’s too late. A few days later when I call time of death, I hug their family members and I tell them the best way to honor their loved one is to go get vaccinated and encourage everyone they know to do the same. They cry. And they tell me they didn’t know. They thought it was a hoax. They thought it was political. They thought because they had a certain blood type or a certain skin color they wouldn’t get as sick. They thought it was ‘just the flu.’ But they were wrong. And they wish they could go back. But they can’t.”

The same reason justifies making vaccination against COVID-19 compulsory: otherwise, too many people make decisions that they later regret. One would have to be monstrously callous to say: “It’s their own fault, let them die.”

In any case, in the COVID era, making vaccination compulsory doesn’t violate Mill’s “harm to others” principle. Unvaccinated Olympic athletes impose risks on others, just as speeding down a busy street does. The only “personal choice” Ellison should have had was to get vaccinated or stay at home. If the International Olympic Committee had said that only vaccinated athletes can compete, that would have freed thousands of athletes from a heightened risk of infection, and would have justified overriding Ellison’s desire to compete without being vaccinated.

For the same reason, rules announced last month in France and Greece requiring that people going to cinemas, bars, or traveling on a train show proof of vaccination are not a violation of anyone’s freedom. This past February, when the Indonesian government became the first to make vaccination mandatory for all adults, the real tragedy was not that it was violating the freedom of its citizens, but that richer countries did not donate the vaccines it needed to implement the law. As a result, Indonesia is now the epicenter of the virus and tens of thousands of unvaccinated Indonesians have died.

By Peter Singer for Project-Syndicate



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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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