Opinion: Yes To Vaccines, But Not Mandatory Vaccines

The world is now debating about the application of mandatory vaccines. However, this cannot create greater abstentionism for the application of reinforcements.

Patient with mask being vaccinated

The middle ground must be found between health and human rights. Photo: LatinAmerican Post

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: Opinión: Vacunas sí, pero no vacunas obligatorias

The pandemic continues and the new variants seem to be the perfect ally of the virus so that new waves of infections are reported around the planet. The medical world insists that vaccines are the best way to counteract infections and deaths. But in many countries, anti-vaccine movements are gaining momentum and vaccination rates remain low.

Faced with this eventuality, many governments have begun to debate the application of laws that oblige vaccination. Some European countries have warned that from 2022 they begin to apply measures that seek to force people to get vaccinated.

Read also: Omicron Variant Mutation: Why Do Viruses Mutate?

However, what is forcing a person to get vaccinated? The simplest idea is a battalion of soldiers entering house to house, looking for anti-vaccines or people who do not have their complete scheme and sending them to prison or forcing them to be vaccinated by force. But the truth is that this is not the case.

Austria, the first country in Europe to announce mandatory vaccination, has given signs of how they intend to implement it. Apparently, people who do not receive their vaccination doses will be fined. Then, the obligation will be subject to financial penalties. Other countries do not allow the use of public transport, access to restaurants, or non-essential businesses.

But with the obligation, we will be polarizing even more those who have not yet been vaccinated due to fear or ignorance. This population group exists and is not part of the anti-vaccine conspiracy. These people need more campaigns, more information, and more contact with experts. It is likely that once we decide to force everyone to get vaccinated, many of whom we could convince with dialogue, they will become even more reluctant and vaccination rates may remain a long way off. This will be a bigger problem when more and more booster doses come (Israel is already applying the fourth).

However, there are already professions where being compulsory means losing one's job. Whether in the health or hospitality area, people who do not get vaccinated can lose their jobs. The other option is that they do not lose their current job, but they will not be able to apply to new ones. For many of them, the circumstances warranted it, but it is not fair to choose certain tasks (or age ranges) and force them only to them and more so when it is these people who have already had to sustain the health of the planet. The measures should be applied to everyone equally.

Then there is the freedom of the people on the one hand, but on the other, we have the increase in cases, the financial burden on the health system, and new quarantine measures that will affect the entire population socially and economically.

Some "pro-vaccine" assure that mandatory application is necessary and insist that either we all get vaccinated or we all lock ourselves up. Both measures are already restrictive and we will have to choose the lesser evil.

So it is imperative to find a middle ground. For example, Singapore decided that, given the increase in health spending by the unvaccinated (they are the majority of people who go to the Health System), they pay their medical expenses. This can still be a retrograde measure since it affects people with higher and lower-income differently. An ideal middle ground would be to be able to impose higher health tax surcharges on those who choose not to get vaccinated. The money for medical services should be taken from somewhere and they should also understand that free decisions still have consequences and prices. This money can go to pay medical expenses, purchase of equipment, and campaigns that encourage vaccination.

Not for nothing, to drive a car you need to get a driving license that is not free or subsidized. There are also restrictions in today's society that have allowed us to live in the community. For example, we have agreed to prohibitions or fines for those who freely choose to drive drunk or without a seat belt. Similarly, public nudity cannot be done or minors cannot drink or smoke. Well, well, we must also accept the use of masks in all closed places and that when there are high cases of infections, enter general or specific quarantines. No one will be able to force someone to be vaccinated, but within our freedoms, we will have to accept the consequences.

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