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:
- Right not to get vaccinated
- 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