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Should vaccination be mandatory?


Australia's prime minister Scott Morrison announced today that he planned to make vaccination for Covid-19 compulsory within the next 9 months, according to ABC News. His words were, "...as mandatory as you could possibly make it." This clearly spells bad news for anyone who does not wish to be vaccinated. Do they have a right to choose? Are they putting others at risk? Could vaccination be enforced?


Can you refuse to be vaccinated?

Vaccination is obviously a controversial topic that evokes strong emotions from those both in favour of and opposed to vaccination. So let's remove the word 'vaccination' from the discussion and replace it with 'medical treatment'.


Do you have the right to refuse medical treatment?


Yes. That's according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 'Forcing' someone to have a vaccine, or any other form of treatment, takes us down a very worrying path. Scott Morrison said he expected opposition from the anti-vaccination lobby. Human rights lawyers might also have to join the queue. (Maintaining an appropriate social distance of course).


A fundamental principle underlying any form of treatment is that of informed consent. This means that prior to any form of medical intervention, the patient should be advised of what the treatment will be, the justification for the treatment and expected outcomes, and any potential risks associated with the treatment. Assuming the patient has the cognitive ability to understand and make decisions for themselves (i.e. they are not an infant, mentally impaired, or unconscious), treatment should only proceed when the patient agrees to it, having been presented with information on the nature of the treatment and any associated risks.


This applies to any treatment, and healthcare practitioners are well aware of this. Informed consent should be obtained not just before surgery or vaccination, but before receiving acupuncture, spinal manipulations, or even a massage. Those studying our courses will know that it also applies to them as Nutritionists, Herbalists, Naturopaths, and Homeopaths.


(Occasionally some will argue that people don't know what's best for them. The doctor knows what's best! This is a fatuous argument. In some cases it is true, since plenty of us decide to drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes after having been informed of the health risks, but that comes with the luxury of living in a democracy instead of a dictatorship. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was written in 1948, not 1984!)


Can you be forced to vaccinate?

We are yet to see the nature of the proposed vaccination program. We already know that some people will not wish to be vaccinated. We don't know whether one day they will be physically restrained by armed personnel while their basic human rights will be tossed out of the window. One would hope that the ethical, moral, and legal implications would preclude this scenario. It is more likely that Scott Morrison, already proud of his "no jab no play" stance, would attempt to coerce a large percentage of the population into accepting treatment by restricting access to certain services, such as welfare payments and other public services.


Does not being vaccinated put others at risk?

Here lies the heart of the debate. The 'for' and 'against' vaccines argument goes something like this.


For: Your child shouldn't be allowed to attend school with my child if they're not vaccinated because you're putting my child at risk. I could get sick because you're not vaccinated.


Against: If you/your child has been vaccinated, what are you worried about? Surely I'm only putting myself at risk, and that's my choice.


For: Uhm, because vaccines aren't 100% effective, so even though I've been vaccinated, I could still get sick.... and it's your fault.


Against: (Rolls eyes). Oh well if vaccines don't work, that's just another reason for me not to put myself at risk of side-effects by getting one!


For: Well, they work most of the time. Enough of the time for it to be worth it, as it decreases the spread of disease in the community.


Against: Fair enough, but I still choose not to as I'd rather take my chances with the disease than the vaccine.


For: What about people who can't be vaccinated for medical reasons?


Against: Uhm, well we are talking about a tiny minority of the population, who I'm probably not coming into contact with anyway.


For: What about herd immunity? If enough people are vaccinated, the disease won't spread. People like you are allowing diseases to continue.


Against: What about it? Herd immunity results from exposure to the disease, whether this has been artificially or naturally acquired.



We could go on, but both sides obviously clearly feel they are justified. One thing's for sure. Whether you decide to vaccinate or not, there is no substitute for taking steps every day to actively improve your health. This means eating well, exercising daily, drinking enough water, ensuring high quality sleep, making social connections, finding time to relax and have fun, etc. There are many natural herbal and homeopathic remedies and nutritional supplements that work in a number of ways to optimise your health and protect you against disease.


There is a need for health education and for everyone to feel comfortable with their health choices based on balanced information. The vaccination debate is not as simple as for or against. It needs to encompass the benefits and disadvantages of vaccinating, and the benefits and disadvantages of not vaccinating. Furthermore, this is not a blanket debate that can, or should be, cast over all vaccines. The discussion needs to differentiate vaccines for different conditions, and then whether is is appropriate for that particular individual.


At Switch on Health, we do not take a pro or anti-vaccination stance. We provide our clients with a balanced discussion, and encourage them to undertake further research and form their own opinion.


Want to learn more?

If you want to learn more about keeping yourself, your family, and your community healthy, Switch on Health has several short courses and accredited qualifications that you will love, including Advanced Diplomas in Nutrition, Herbal Medicine, Naturopathy and Homeopathy. Browse the short courses or learn more about our accredited Advanced Diploma programs here: https://switchonhealth.learnworlds.com/start



Photo by Dimitri Houtteman on Unsplash

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