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The ethics of vaccine mandates: Transmission was a red herring
Pandemic policies review part 3: They forced vaccine mandates on the public – for a vaccine that does not prevent infection or transmission
They were wrong when they forced vaccine mandates on the public – for a vaccine that does not prevent infection or transmission.
Vaccine mandates and coercion campaigns were justified, they said. They were necessary, they said, to ‘stop the spread’, to ‘slow the spread’, and to ‘protect the community’.1
This sign was taped to a cafe door in Victoria2 in the weeks following the breaking international news that not only do the Covid vaccines not prevent transmission, they were never even tested for this endpoint in the trials.
Victoria enforced vaccine passports for service in cafes and restaurants, as did the other Australian states and territories. This cafe and many others refused to serve unvaccinated people during this time, as was required by law. Business owners who did not comply were raided by police and in some cases were arrested and carted off in paddy wagons.3
Reactions to the apology on social media were strong (peruse comments here). The attempt at amends was welcomed by many. However, others pointed out that the apology is inherently flawed.
Many of us did know that the jabs would not stop transmission and would not protect others by the time that mandates were brought in in Australia, and as the UK government ramped up its guilt campaign. Academics, medical professionals, public health experts and lay people spoke up, but were heavily censored and/or delegitimised. The cost of censoring those voices from public debate was high.
Second, and more importantly, the implication in the wording of this apology is that if the vaccines had worked as promised, then the mandates would have been justified.
This is ethically wrong.
In free democratic societies, there is no ethical justification for enforcing vaccine mandates -
even if the vaccine is safe
even if the vaccine is effective
even if it stops transmission
Vaccine mandates violate the ethical primacy of valid consent. If the cost of not ‘giving’ consent is loss of civil rights (freedom to work, to travel, to use public and private facilities), then in truth, the word ‘consent’ has lost all meaning. We covered the topic of valid consent in more detail in an earlier installment of this series:
Canadian professor of ethics Dr Julie Ponesse, gave a moving and eloquent summary of the ethical dilemma of Covid vaccine mandates in a 4:50 min video that went viral in late 2021. Presenting her question as an ethics multiple choice exam for her first year students, Ponesse asked,
“When a person has done the same job to the satisfaction of her employer for 20 years, is it right, or is it wrong, to suddenly demand that they submit to an unnecessary medical procedure in order to keep their job. In this case, the procedure is the injection of a substance that has not been fully tested for safety. It has not yet been shown to be effective. It is designed to prevent an illness that poses little threat to the employee. The employee is not allowed to ask questions. She may only submit to the procedure, or be fired.
To my first year students, is this right, or is this wrong? I already know the answer.”
Dr Ponesse was dismissed from her position on 7 September 2021.
A popular argument to justify the coercive vaccination measures was to compare compulsory vaccination to compulsory seat belts. No one liked them at first, but now everyone is used to them and they save lives. This was a patently stupid conceit. Seatbelts are removable and do not alter your biology. Neither do they lodge in various tissues and organs.
Any discussion of vaccine mandates should be preceded by public debate over the question, is it reasonable for the state to conscript your body in service to others?
Public debate will highlight the inconsistencies in individuals’ own positions, and in our social attitudes and legislation. Read the below for a comprehensive unpacking of how My Body, My Choice plays out in relation to abortion and vaccine mandates.
The red herring
By focusing the public gaze on transmission, politicians and health officials distracted us from the fundamental problem of vaccine mandates. No, the vaccines don’t stop transmission. Yes, plenty of us knew this at the time of the coercion campaigns. But this was a red herring.
The use of vaccine mandates and campaigns of coercion to pressure citizens into receiving an experimental medical procedure was an appalling breach of ethics. It was an act that rent our societies into pieces. Such is the impact when governments destroy the very ethical foundations on which our societies are built.
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Ethics of Vaccine Refusal, February 2021, also embedded:
THE PANDEMIC RECKONING, A SERIES
This post is Part 2 in the PANDEMIC RECKONING series, in which Dystopian Down Under and The Stark Naked Brief review the pandemic policies of the Australian and the UK governments. View the main post here:
This article provides a compilation of every Australian state health minister and premier claiming that Covid vaccines would prevent transmission.