Should Covid-19 vaccination be compulsory?
St Benedict’s students have been considering the pros and cons of making vaccination mandatory in the fight against Covid-19, as part of the latest online ‘Thinking Forum’.
"I think that the vaccine should be compulsory as it would save many lives and it is our most powerful tool to eradicate the Coronavirus. This is important as the Coronavirus, although not deadly to everyone, spreads rapidly and we have now reached 100,000 deaths as a country. Some people may argue that they have 'freedoms' to not take the vaccine, however I think this is completely wrong as it is more intruding on other people’s freedoms that they will die an easily preventable death. If we can gain 'herd immunity' as a country we can resume our normal lives and be free again and stop the unnecessary deaths of a preventable virus."Niall (Y12)
"I think that the COVID vaccine should absolutely be compulsory. We've seen particularly in China that more authoritarian approaches to COVID have worked incredibly well; extreme lockdowns and forced isolations seem shocking from our Western perspective but the truth is in a matter of months, the original epicentre of COVID had eradicated it whilst Britain and America, in its more liberal and democratic approach, are fighting the highest numbers of cases and deaths on the globe. It sounds brutal, but the vaccine is absolutely safe for the vast majority of the population. For the few that suffer allergic reactions, most are minor and can be easily treated with medication and perhaps a brief hospital visit. For the few that suffer something more serious, the harsh truth is that the tiny percentage that suffer fatal implications at the hands of the vaccine are nothing compared to the thousands we are losing everyday- not just the elderly now but young, fit people. If we want to beat this disease, a strong, non-negotiable approach is needed rather than Boris Johnson’s repeated fussing and pandering which is costing lives due to his inability to make an executive decision."Caitlin (Y12)
"I think that the COVID-19 vaccine should be compulsory (except for those with health issues) because even though some people might not want it, it must be used to ensure safety for others. Just because one person doesn’t want it, they should be aware that by not having it they are putting others in danger."MAXIMUS (Y7)
"I do think the vaccine should be compulsory for everyone, as I believe it's important to protect the vulnerable citizens of the UK, and the rest of the world. To prevent putting others in danger, it is important to take the vaccine, as desires come after needs."ZACH (Y10)
"The Coronavirus has caused 95.6 million cases and eliminated 2.04 million people from this planet (at the time of writing). This surely is a global catastrophe that has impacted us in every way possible in our daily lives. Viruses cannot be killed as they are not living microrganisms like bacteria. Therefore the only ways to keep ourselves safe is either stay at home so you could never catch it. Or take the vaccine which actively eliminates the virus from our body before it even causes any damage. This is why vaccine is the most effective way of battling against the coronavirus in this age. Therefore I believe vaccine should be compulsory for everyone to take unless you are allergic to it."
JIN TAO (Y12)
"I think that the vaccine should be compulsory, with a few exceptions. This way, it is ensured that vulnerable people who are unable to take the vaccine due to medical complications (like cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy) are not put at risk. I understand that there are objections due to concerns about side effects. However, every vaccine has possible side effects. For example, the HPV vaccine, administered to many young children, has a possible side effect of progressive paralysis (no-one from a sample size of 32,000 suffered this, however). Furthermore, the technology for vaccines is incredibly advanced. There are also other issues about people refusing to be vaccinated. Although COVID-19 may not be particularly dangerous to younger people at the current moment, the spread of the virus increases chances for mutation, resulting in new strains. These new strains could be more infectious (like the one seen in the UK before Christmas that has caused a 3rd lockdown) or more dangerous to young people. I believe that a return to normality will be brought about much faster if as many people are vaccinated as possible, and that compulsory vaccination is how to achieve this."ANGELICA (Y12)
"I believe that COVID-19 vaccines should be compulsory to an extent. The most obvious argument against is that compulsion violates a person's right to personal choice. The law states that no-one can be subject to medical experimentation without free consent. The one flaw in this claim is that it does not include refusing the medical treatment that is for the benefit of society. The only disadvantage of giving compulsory vaccines is that there are some people who have severe reactions to vaccinations and therefore should be protected through an alternative option."AMIRREZA (Y10)
"I personally believe that the vaccine should be compulsory because it stops you from having the virus for a long time. When you lose protection from the vaccine, however, you could then catch the virus from those who had not been vaccinated."SEB (Y7)
"Overall, I do think the vaccine should be compulsory as not taking it is directly negatively impacting other citizens. However, it might bring about fear from people that the government have the power to force people to take things in the future which could possibly have undesirable side effects."SEBASTIAN (Y11)
"I believe that the Covid-19 vaccine should be compulsory as not taking the vaccine puts others at risk as well as yourself. However, I understand that some people may be opposed to having the vaccine due to fake news that has circulated via social media. Therefore, the government should educate the country on the vaccine so that every citizen is able to willingly have the vaccine rather than being forced to. Although I believe it is essential to have the vaccine, it is inhumane to force people to take it, so, by educating others the government can ensure that everyone willingly takes the vaccine."GABRIELA (Y11)
"I think that the Covid-19 vaccine should be compulsory for all. I guess you could say that you should have a choice. I would agree if the vaccine only protected you. But, it also protects others around you. Also, taking the vaccine almost certainly prevents you from having to take up a hospital bed which could be used by someone else."ANYA (Y8)
"I think that the vaccine should be compulsory as it is not a matter of choice. It is just like lockdown, everybody must do it as it protects everybody around them."DYRAN (Y7)
"Personally,I have mixed feelings on whether or not the Covid-19 vaccine should be compulsory. I think it should be compulsory because it means that the whole pandemic will be over sooner, people can go back to normal and it will save lots of lives. However, I think it shouldn’t be compulsory because there is no way to tell that the vaccine may not have side effects for the future such as the next generation of children."FINLAY (Y7)
"I believe that the Covid-19 vaccine should be compulsory. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."Owen (Y7)
"I think that the vaccine should be compulsory, but only for people who are over 60 or have a condition that makes them more vulnerable. This is because they are the most severely affected by getting the virus, so they should have to get the vaccine - although there is a risk involved in having it, it is not more than the risk involved in being an elder person and going back to normal life without any sort of protection. For younger vulnerable people, it should also be compulsory."
"I think that the COVID-19 vaccine should be compulsory because it has been tested and proven to be safe to take. If people do not have the vaccine, the Coronavirus could continue to impact our lives and can further ruin the economy, education and even more. Some people believe that the vaccine is unsafe, but there is scientific evidence for it being safe, and the world being rid of COVID is more important than what people want, as these troubling times are about protecting others as well as ourselves. Some people think this would counter free will, but I disagree and think that it is a necessary precaution against more potential death. Some people do not know how seriously the virus has affected families and split them apart."CALLUM (Y10)
I think that the Covid vaccine should be compulsory as it seems the only way out of this extremely difficult situation. Why would anyone refuse a vaccine when it's a way to stop getting Covid and potentially save your life? Everyone who can have a vaccine must have one so that the people who can't (ie those with severe allergies) will be protected. The government have made the vaccination free to everybody so nobody has an excuse that they can't afford it. Furthermore, if we all have the vaccine the NHS staff would all be protected from risking their lives to save others with Covid. Additionally, the hospitals would be able to go back to treating all the other ill patients.
"As we all know, the vaccine has had some of the brightest minds on the planet creating it, and so I do not believe it cannot be trusted. Also, the point of the vaccine is to break free from the pandemic's consequences. Whether or not we like the idea of having an injection, we have to take other people into account, to help the elderly, and many other citizens who have feared Coronavirus, by preventing deaths. We came into this as a team, and so I think we should come out as a team."FREDDIE (Y8)
"As we live through these tumultuous times of pandemics, protests and climate change (to name but a few), a debate on whether the Covid-19 vaccine should be compulsory is not something the world needs now. Although this topic is critical and life-saving, it calls on the two polar opposites of society, with the anti-vaxxers at one extreme and the stricter, more 'authoritarian' (for want of a better word) approach of many others, saying that the vaccine should be compulsory. Ultimately this whole debate, in my view, hinges on whether it is OK in a supposedly free and liberal democracy for people to have a chemical concoction of drugs forced upon them for the greater good of others. Personally, given the choice, I would accept the vaccine, quite literally, with my arms outstretched; but whether this view can or should be forced on others, well... where is the line between a democracy and a dictatorship drawn?"NED (Y10)
"I believe that the vaccine is a great step forward in the fight against Covid-19 and the return of some sort of normality, and I hope that as many people as possible will decide to have it. Vaccination doesn't just protect the individual, but the whole community. However, I do not think that it should be compulsory for the following reasons.
"Firstly, some people will be allergic to the vaccine and won't be able to have it safely. It may be difficult and complicated to identify these people, and allow them to be exempt from any vaccination law.
"Secondly, there is a group of people who are genuinely nervous about having the vaccine, simply because it is so new and they don't believe sufficient testing has been done to confirm that it is actually safe. These are reasonable and legitimate concerns and for the government to override these people and their feelings would be undermining their freedom to make their own decisions about their life and their healthcare. After all, no other vaccinations are compulsory in the UK (although you need to have certain vaccinations if you want to visit some other countries). People's confidence in their governments has been diminishing in recent years, and I think that forcing them to have a vaccine if they are afraid will make this situation even worse.
"Finally, there is the difficulty of what to do with the people who would still refuse to have the vaccine even if it became law. What would their punishment be? Trying to prosecute all of the people who refuse to take the vaccine would take up a lot of police and court time and money, and if people were fined and didn't pay, they could end up in jail, which seems a very extreme punishment for refusing to have a vaccination.
"Instead of making it compulsory, I believe that the government should be trying its best to educate people about the Covid vaccine, and also to dispel the fake news that is going around social media like 'Bill Gates is trying to put microchips in your blood.' These ridiculous claims spread fear and encourage people who might have wanted the vaccine to turn against it. If we put money into educating people properly about the vaccine, then I hope that enough people should make the choice to have the vaccine themselves, and not need to have it imposed on them."Rory (Y8)
"I think that the vaccine should not be compulsory, but people should be able to make an informed choice for themselves and not be stigmatized if they decide against it. However, I think the issue is with fake information surrounding the vaccination. There should be positive evidence-based and targeted messaging which should stress the personal, economic and social benefits of the vaccination. This messaging should be coupled with clear information about the higher risk of severe illness and death from Covid-19 than some minor side effects from the vaccination."CATRIONA (Y12)
"I believe that the vaccine should not be compulsory for a few reasons. Firstly, I think that people shouldn't be compelled to do something by the government that they think is morally/scientifically wrong as it could be seen as a breach of their own free will. Secondly, though the vaccine is considered to be safe, the long term side effects of the vaccine are still unknown and due to the nature of vaccines, could potentially lead to a significant outcome in future generations which we would be unable to determine currently."ROQUE (Y12)
"I would like to preface my answer by saying that I do believe everybody in this country should take the Covid-19 vaccine, as it will ensure that a high percentage of the population would carry antibodies. This is by far the best hope to control the virus spreading and save lives.
"However, forcing people to take the vaccine effectively removes their freedom of choice and I am not certain that this is a path that any democratic government should take.
"I believe that the government’s responsibility in this situation is to ensure that the public are fully informed of the safety of the vaccine and they should point to the clear evidence which has led to MHRA approval. They should also actively prevent the spread of fake news and conspiracy theories which have no scientific basis, by talking to and even punishing social media platforms where they are usually spread.
"There is a precedent regarding vaccination such as many African countries, which will not allow you entry unless you have a vaccination against yellow fever. I think there should be a rule against travelling without the vaccine to and from the UK. This would give more people the incentive to take the vaccine."
"I do not think that the coronavirus vaccine should be compulsory, but highly recommended. I think that people who are vulnerable should be the first priority to receive the vaccine. Although everyone is desperate to go back to our ordinary lives some people may be uncomfortable with getting the vaccine for a number of reasons. Firstly, everyone should be free to make their own choice of whether they want something injected into their bodies or not. People could argue that this endangers the population but I think that as long as you aren't being reckless and putting others in danger by meeting up with others or not wearing a mask etc, you should be allowed to decide if you would like to receive the vaccine or not. Also, people could be a bit scared and wary of the vaccine, as it is very new and we aren't fully sure what the side effects could be. Also, some people could have bad reactions to vaccines and would be safer if they did not receive one, and for some health reasons cannot get the coronavirus vaccine. However, if more people receive the vaccine quickly, hopefully we will be able to regain some sort of normality before long, but overall I think it is your own decision if you receive the vaccine or not, although it should be highly encouraged because it will keep yourself and others safe."MARIA (Y8)
"Personally, I do not think that the vaccine should be compulsory, especially for people who have doubts or are scared to have it. I think that everyone should have the right to choose whether or not they want to have immunity. On the other hand, some could argue that people who do not want it are selfish, because they could put others at risk for this decision. I think that people who decide not to have the vaccine should be especially careful because they could pass on the virus. In conclusion, I think people have the right to decide, but should not be irresponsible if they make the decision not to have it."Molly (Y7)
"I do not think the COVID-19 vaccine should be compulsory. I do think it is generally a great thing that most should consider taking but many feel uncomfortable taking medicine and some have reactions to the chemicals in the vaccines due to weak immune systems, although undoubtedly, the vaccine will be taken by all vulnerable people, but no kind of medicine should be forced on you."RIONA (Y7)
"Forcing everyone to be vaccinated against Covid-19 does not fit well with the UK's liberal democracy. To legislate that all citizens must be vaccinated would be counterproductive for people's respect for the government. Any compulsory order would certainly undermine trust in our parliamentary democracy. The medium to long-term side effects of the vaccines are not yet known, so individuals should have a choice. Those people most at risk from potential vaccine side-effects (e.g. those with faulty immune systems) should obviously not have to be vaccinated against their will.
"Understandably, certain jobs (eg teachers and healthcare workers) and travel (eg airlines) will require you to have a vaccination in order to work or fly overseas, but at least people should be afforded the personal choice."JAMES (Y9)
"Well, as far as the success that the UK has seen by following "scientific guidance from experts" I think that the vaccine is at least one of the things that we can trust. The vaccine has not had enough time to allow countless tests and for us in turn to know what could be potential side effects of the vaccine, its overall effectiveness and its safety for people in various situations with a range of health issues. Despite the efficiency of the scientists working so hard to produce a vaccine, many remain sceptical such as those who belong to a group of anti-vaxxers who time and again have been disproved by science and yet still distrust scientific information. There is no doubt that what scientists have accomplished is amazing to even have a vaccine at this point, but I think that even if it feels that someone is desperately wrong, we must acknowledge the rights of people who want to know more."TARAN (Y12)
"I don’t think the coronavirus vaccine should be compulsory for everybody. The coronavirus vaccine is very likely to be safe, and undoubtedly overall it is a very good thing. In order to protect our society, most people should, and will, be vaccinated, in order to protect themselves and others. However, some people would be unable to take the vaccine; for example, those with weak immune systems or bad responses to the chemicals within vaccines. They could end up very ill, or even dead. Also, vaccines are effective if most, not necessarily all, people are vaccinated, so while most people should get the vaccine, it should not be compulsory."HELENA (Y9)
"I do not think that the Covid-19 vaccine should be compulsory for everybody. I feel that everyone in the UK should, and most likely will, have it to ensure the safety of the elderly, the vulnerable, key staff workers etc... however one should not be forced to take it.
"Some people may feel uncomfortable for a number of reasons. Also, making something compulsory doesn't seem right in a democratic country and everyone should have the freedom to make a choice.
"In the past, many vaccines for other diseases have proved effective and so the government should try their best to EDUCATE the public that it is safe and will indeed stop the virus from spreading."RAVI (Y9)
"I think that the Covid-19 vaccination should not be compulsory, but should be recommended for everyone. People should not be forced to have it if they don't want it. However, some people may argue that everyone should be vaccinated in order to protect other people but I think that if people want to be protected, they should be vaccinated themselves. Once everyone who wants to be vaccinated has been, they are protected so the virus will only spread between the people who have not been vaccinated, and it was their decision."LETTIE (Y8)
"In my opinion the Covid-19 vaccine shouldn't be compulsory, as although people may be inadvertently endangering others by not taking the vaccine people should have the option to choose. These reasons may vary from cultural to being generally scared but they are all valid and deserve acknowledgement."FREDDIE (Y8)
Given the scale of the impact of Coronavirus, if all vaccines could be reliably deemed safe for all people, I would absolutely advocate for making them compulsory. In order to overcome this virus a very large majority citizens have to be vaccinated, both nationally and globally.
However, at this point in time it would not be ethical to make vaccines compulsory because unfortunately our pharmaceutical systems are still victim to bias. With multiple different businesses striving to create a vaccine, it is very difficult for boards such as the FDA to oversee all trials and developments. Combined with institutional bias this led to vaccine trials massively underrepresenting ethnic minorities.
In the first four trials for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine the percentage of white participants averaged 92% while BAME participants accounted for an average of only 0.4%. Not only did this underrepresent BAME Britons by a staggering amount, but it also does so when there is already evidence that black people and certain ethnic minorities have a higher risk of severe illness.
This occurred in countless other vaccines, particularly in America, where vaccines that are being developed to be distributed globally also underrepresented ethnic minorities. Therefore, the vaccine cannot be made compulsory when the evidence of its safety and effectiveness is biased.Ned (Yr13)