Covid-19 arrived in the UK there was a general acceptance that we would
have to accept restrictions on individual movements for the general
good. Not everyone accepted this and, slowly, opposition grew. There
were public demonstrations to support freedom of choice. Some people did
not believe Covid existed, some thought it less dangerous than was
claimed and some were willing to accept the risk anyway. New laws were
introduced to protect the majority from those whose behaviour might
spread the disease or overstretch resources, although some, like social
distance at venues or masks on public transport or in shops, proved
difficult to enforce.
as everyone tired of lockdown and track-and-trace systems seemed to
present administrative problems, hope for any return to a normal life
started to rest on an effective vaccine.
are in fact the most cost-effective procedures available to medicine,
exceeding even the benefits of non-smoking campaigns. Now we have one
for Coivd-19, the question is, how best to get it used?
virus is contagious, dangerous and how it produces disease is not fully
understood. It is also the focus of very divided opinion, increasing
controversy and emotional responses. It is possible that any vaccine
would be rejected by a significant minority (41,75, 89, 90). ‘Vaccine
hesitancy’ is not a modern problem - there were protests against
smallpox vaccine. Several countries over the last 100 years have tried
enforcing vaccination by law and often met with fierce opposition,
sometimes repealing or adjusting laws as a result. How should we proceed
under Covid 19? Should - and could - government make vaccination
compulsory to protect the health of its citizens.
any government already has a range of powers to deal with public health
emergencies. “These provide, for instance, specific powers to detain
people and restrict gatherings to manage the spread of infectious
diseases.”(1) Although Article 8 of the Human Rights Act protects our
privacy, there are situations when public authorities can “interfere
with your right to respect for private and family life” ... to protect
public safety or public health and to “protect the rights and freedoms
of other people.“ (2) However, UK law at the moment explicitly prohibits
mandatory vaccination for any reason (3, 7). What principles apply
here, and how would you apply them?