In Pursuit of the Unvaccinated: Whatever Happened to Informed Consent?

Janis Ozolins, University of Notre Dame Australia/ Catholic Theological College, University of Divinity

Following the medical scandals prosecuted in the Nuremburg trials and the violations of human rights uncovered in the Tuskagee medical experiments, the Helsinki Declaration (1964) and the Belmont Report (1978) sought to eliminate the exploitation of patients by medical practitioners in the conduct of medical research. Over the past forty years or so, national governments have refined the ethical principles which govern medical research with human participants. One of the key principles is informed consent. This principle not only governs informed consent in medical research with human participants, but also informed consent in medical treatment. In this paper, I will briefly outline what is meant by informed consent and argue that in mandating vaccination against Covid-19, governments are violating human dignity and undermining democratic freedom. There are good reasons why individuals should be vaccinated against Covid-19, but these do not licence a government to override individual autonomy by coercing individuals to be vaccinated through prohibiting the unvaccinated from working or engaging in social activity. It will further be argued that informed consent to medical treatment is no different to informed consent to medical research. That is, the same principles govern both. It also points to the importance of education in understanding the principles of democracy and the limits of government interference in individual lives.


  Bio: Jānis (John) Tālivaldis Ozoliņš, FHERDSA, FPESA, FACE, LZA HSZN is a former Professor of Philosophy at University of Notre Dame Australia and Australian Catholic University, Honorary Fellow, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia and Adjunct Lecturer, Catholic Theological College, University of Divinity, Melbourne.

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