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Book cover: Advances in Bioethics

Advances in Bioethics

ISSN: 1479-3709
Series editor(s): Dr Wayne Shelton

Subject Area: Health Care Management/Healthcare

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Chapter 4: Can Mandatory Vaccination of Health Care Professionals during an Influenza Pandemic ever be Justified?


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Title:Chapter 4: Can Mandatory Vaccination of Health Care Professionals during an Influenza Pandemic ever be Justified?
Author(s):Jaro Kotalik
Volume:9 Editor(s): John Balint, Sean Philpott, Robert Baker, Martin Strosberg ISBN: 978-0-76231-311-2 eISBN: 978-1-84950-412-6
Citation:Jaro Kotalik (2006), Chapter 4: Can Mandatory Vaccination of Health Care Professionals during an Influenza Pandemic ever be Justified?, in John Balint, Sean Philpott, Robert Baker, Martin Strosberg (ed.) Ethics and Epidemics (Advances in Bioethics, Volume 9), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.69-89
DOI:10.1016/S1479-3709(06)09004-2 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article type:Chapter Item
Abstract:

Objectives: To discuss whether, during an influenza pandemic, public health authorities could be ethically justified in implementing a mandatory vaccination program directed at health care professionals.

Methods: Ethical analysis is carried out by examining arguments that can be made in favor or against such a mandatory measure and by seeking a reasonably balanced position between them. Arguments under consideration are based on the duties of health professionals and public health authorities, the consequences of their actions and on other ethical principles. The importance of relevant empirical data is stressed without any attempt to review or analyze them systematically.

Results: Mandatory vaccination of some health care professionals during a serious pandemic of influenza can be justified, but only under certain limited conditions.

Conclusions: In the throes of an influenza pandemic, health care professionals (and to a variable degree, other health care workers) have an ethical obligation to accept influenza vaccination if it is reasonably safe and effective. The ethical responsibility of public health authorities is to limit the impact of a pandemic on the population by all reasonable means, which clearly includes the appropriate use of vaccine. Consequently, the vaccination of health care staff can be made mandatory under certain conditions. However, a critical objection to this conclusion, which upholds that a voluntary vaccination program (an ethically much less problematic intervention) is just as effective, needs to be addressed.


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