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No One Can Be Forced To Get Vaccinated: SC

The Supreme Court has upheld the right of an individual against forcible vaccination and the government’s COVID-19 vaccination policy to protect communitarian health.


GS II- Government Policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Details
  2. Right not to get vaccinated
  3. About Vaccine Hesitancy


  • Vaccine hesitancy is on the rise these days.
  • Certain vaccine mandates imposed by state governments and union territory administrations were declared to be disproportionate by the Supreme Court.
  • They frequently deny unvaccinated people access to essential social benefits and freedom of mobility.

Right not to get vaccinated

  • The bench upheld the right to bodily integrity and personal autonomy of an individual in the light of vaccines and other public health measures.
  • Bodily integrity is protected under Article 21 (right to life) of the Constitution and no individual can be forced to be vaccinated.
  • The court struck a balance between individual right to bodily integrity and refuse treatment with the government’s concern for public health.
  • When the issue is extended to “communitarian health”, the government was indeed “entitled to regulate issues”.
    • But its right to regulate by imposing limits to individual rights was open to judicial scrutiny.

About Vaccine Hesitancy

  • Vaccine hesitancy, also known as anti-vaccination or anti-vax, is a reluctance or refusal to be vaccinated or to have one’s children vaccinated against contagious diseases.
  • It was identified by the World Health Organization as one of the top ten global health threats of 2019.
  • The term encompasses outright refusal to vaccinate, delaying vaccines, accepting vaccines but remaining uncertain about their use, or using certain vaccines but not others.
  • Arguments against vaccination are contradicted by overwhelming scientific consensus about the safety and efficacy of vaccines.
  • Hesitancy primarily results from public debates around the medical, ethical and legal issues related to vaccines.
  • Vaccine hesitancy often results in disease outbreaks and deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Vaccine hesitancy stems from multiple key factors

  • Person’s lack of confidence (mistrust of the vaccine and/or healthcare provider)
  • complacency (the person does not see a need for the vaccine or does not see the value of the vaccine)
  • convenience (access to vaccines).

Source: The Hindu

December 2023