Opinion: Getting the Covid-19 vaccine should not be mandatory

  • Body autonomy means that people should have the right to decide if they get the coronavirus jab
  • The Pfizer vaccine is still new, and scientists have not had time to study the long term effects
Brett Fafata |

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Should the Covid-19 vaccine be mandatory, or should people be able to choose if they want to get it?

The news of the coronavirus vaccine and its initial rollout has made headlines around the world. Now, the question on everyone’s mind is: who is going to get the vaccine, and how is it going to be given out? There are also debates on whether the vaccine should be mandatory. I believe it should not be, and that individuals should have the right to choose whether they want to take it or not, rather than being forced.

The main reason for this is bodily autonomy. It is the idea that people should have full control over what happens to their own body. There are many laws based off this idea, and I think it’s important to consider this in the context of mandatory vaccines. Our strong belief in bodily integrity is why society has laws against physical and sexual assault.

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No one has a right to someone else’s body without their consent. Consent is the difference between a mutually agreed upon boxing match and a sucker punch. When you get a vaccine, you are making the decision to allow a substance to be injected into you. You should have the right to decide whether to take a vaccine or not, because a vaccine puts something into your body, and nobody has the right to your body without your consent.

You need to give permission for other medical treatments. If a doctor operates on you without your permission, it’s considered a horrific crime. Why should a vaccine be different?

The particulars of the Covid-19 vaccine also come into play. The average development time for a new vaccine is around 10 years, with a record of four years for a vaccine against mumps. In comparison, the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine was developed and approved for use within a period of only 10 months. Because the process has moved so quickly, it’s impossible to know what the lasting implications are.

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Generally scientists must conduct a five-year study to determine the effects, but of course we do not have that kind of time during a global pandemic. It’s likely that we won’t learn what the long term effects are for at least a few years.

For some people, especially those who are a part of at-risk groups, I think it is a very safe bet to take the vaccine. For others, like those under the age of 30, the issue may be more complicated.

When it comes to risk assessment, there are very few other cases in which the government will make decisions about a person’s health, even when there is potential for harm to others.

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The government does not force smokers into treatment, even though it is known that secondhand smoke can seriously hurt bystanders. I think the same thought process should be applied here, leaving the individual free to make their own decisions.

Whether you approach the issue from a moral or practical angle, I believe that ultimately, the person who knows what is best for you is you, and therefore, everyone should be able to make their own choice about taking the coronavirus vaccine and it should not be mandatory.

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