Vaccine mandates, value pluralism, and policy diversity

Bioethics 33 (9):1042-1049 (2019)
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Political communities across the world have recently sought to tackle rising rates of vaccine hesitancy and refusal, by implementing coercive immunization programs, or by making existing immunization programs more coercive. Many academics and advocates of public health have applauded these policy developments, and they have invoked ethical reasons for implementing or strengthening vaccine mandates. Others have criticized these policies on ethical grounds, for undermining liberty, and as symptoms of broader government overreach. But such arguments often obscure or abstract away from the diverse values that are relevant to the ethical justifications of particular political communities’ vaccine‐mandate policies. We argue for an expansive conception of the normative issues relevant to deciding whether and how to establish or reform vaccine mandates, and we propose a schema by which to organize our thoughts about the ways in which different kinds of vaccine‐mandate policies implicate various values.



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Mark Christopher Navin
Oakland University