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Vaccination under legal or moral obligation?

Should vaccination against COVID-19 be compulsory?


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The Voice is the student newspaper run by internationals at KU Leuven. Between 2018 and 2022, The Voice published articles on the Veto website under the The Voice section, combined with translations of Dutch Veto articles. After 2022, the section was renamed to Veto English. Since then, the section has been operated by Veto English staff only.

Originally written for the CEBE blog by Angel M. Fuentes Mateo
Contributing Writer in collaboration with CEBE

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Several vaccines are finally available and gradually will make their way to each of us. However, given the doubts or resistance to getting the vaccine from part of the population, an important question arises: Should vaccination against COVID-19 be compulsory?

Well, for Catholics at least, Pope Francis has already stated that it is a “moral obligation”. Beyond this important fraction of the European and global populations, and for all those that have doubts about being vaccinated there are several powerful reasons to consider. In fact, some of these reasons are so powerful that all governments should seriously reflect upon making vaccination compulsory for all their citizens and visitors.

Clearly, the very first reason is that the absence of vaccination puts yourself and your closest relatives, friends and colleagues at serious health risk and places a very high and otherwise unnecessary burden on the whole health system of the country where you live or those countries that you plan to visit.

Furthermore, the virus will take advantage of the absence of vaccination by not only spreading further but by mutating many more times. As soon as new mutants are capable of avoiding the existing vaccines, we will be exposed to a new pandemic where radical measures will have to be taken again up until the moment new vaccines or treatments are made available, which may take months as we know.

Besides, the best way to help developing countries cope with future COVID-19-related pandemics is to eradicate the virus, starting in those regions of the world where eradication would be possible and relatively faster. It is not only about leading by example, it is also about working together globally.

Bear in mind that another virus has been successfully eradicated through global vaccination campaigns, the virus causing smallpox. Therefore, it would be possible to eradicate COVID-19, particularly when using vaccines that fight off the virus before infecting our cells and thus stopping transmission altogether. This seems to be the case for some of the new vaccines such as the one developed in Spain by the CSIC or, as seems to be confirmed, the recently authorized vaccine from Oxford/AstraZeneca.

In any case, the top priority for the administration of these vaccines should be for those groups that interact with more people: teachers, public transport and supermarket employees, etc.

Angel M. Fuentes Mateos holds a PhD on Molecular Biology and Protein Engineering from the University of Reading (UK), a MSc on Food Biotechnology and BSc on Fundamental Biology by the University of Oviedo (Spain). Currently he works as a Programme Officer at DG R&I, Unit F3 Sustainable Industrial Systems, European Commission and he is a member of Volt Europa and Volt España.

Disclaimer: The information and views set out in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Commission.

For more information on the COVID-19 vaccines see our previous article on the topic here.

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