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Essay: The Ethics of Vaccination: Advantages, Risks, and Moral Significance

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  • Subject area(s): Health essays
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  • Published: 21 August 2023*
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  • Words: 1,761 (approx)
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  • Tags: Vaccination essays

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Vaccination is a way to help your body protect itself from diseases. It helps your immune system become stronger, so you’re less likely to get sick from things you might normally get sick from. According to the Oxford Language website, vaccines are substances that help the body’s immune system fight a particular infection, the immune system works the same way when it’s exposed to a disease, it trains itself to create antibodies.

They prevent up to three million deaths each year. Since vaccines became available in the UK, many diseases, such as smallpox, polio and tetanus that used to kill or disable millions of people have either disappeared or are rarely seen. (NHS, 2021)

The smallpox vaccine developed by Edward Jenner in the late 18th century marked the beginning of vaccinations. Vaccines went through several improvements and campaigns to eradicate numerous diseases and lead to the general healthcare stability societies now have. (Hsu, 2013)

This led to progress in prevention of infectious diseases as knowledge of microbiology and immunology grew through the 20th century, techniques were developed for cell culture of viruses and allowed for rapid advances in prevention of polio, varicella, influenza, plague, cholera, and others. (Hsu, 2013)

The government has a crucial role for mass vaccination as they often create campaigns to raise awareness and vaccinate the population as whole, verify if the vaccines are tested, trustable, reliable and analyze which groups are being primarily affected by the disease to know which groups to prioritize and vaccinate first during campaigns. (Chenok, 2021)

New-born children are often vaccinated in the first months that they are born. (n.d, 2022) Individuals often have choice on whether they should vaccinate their children and themselves. But in a certain way they are forced and influenced by society to be vaccinated, even if they do not trust the vaccine. Which makes the ethical issues of vaccination politics and behavior in general questionable.

Ethics is about moral standards that should govern actions that are not only or only partially in one’s own self-interest, but also and sometimes especially in the interest of other people or in accordance with certain social norms. (Wappes, 2022)

An individual might think how there is even an ethical debate over vaccination. Given how advantageous as well as low risk it is, as well as the simple truth that the benefits extend beyond the person who receives the vaccination to include the rest of the community.

Various ethical perspectives on the moral significance of both, the degree to which they underpin personal accountability, and the justification of various vaccination strategies, the principle of least restrictive alternative in public health, and the minimization of risks on individuals in the search of the collective good need to be weighed in relation to the issue, as well as facts like the fact that some people have personal beliefs against vaccination or that vaccines do present some risk of iatrogenic harm. (Giubilini, 2020)

Both low and middle-income countries with insufficient access to vaccines as well as, surprisingly, high-income countries are characterized by low transmission and prevention. Factors that would make one not want to be vaccinated include a preference for healthy lifestyles, religious objections to vaccinations, or a greater sense of responsibility for the minor risks associated with vaccinations than for the risks associated with exposing other children to infectious diseases. Also, some people are simply “vaccine hesitant”; they don’t oppose vaccination outright or on moral grounds, but their worries frequently lead them to postpone vaccination for their children. (YEO, 2022)

Community Immunity occurs whenever a community has enough individuals who are immune to a particular infectious disease, those who have not received the vaccine are indirectly protected because the high immunization rate prevents the spread of the virus. (Giubilini, 2020)

Its status as a public good makes community immunity relevant from an ethical perspective. which tries to defend the morality of mass vaccination. Some people believe that it is morally required to get immunized against specific infectious diseases because doing so would be fair to the community. (Giubilini, 2020)

There have always been infectious diseases in human history. Although the quick development of COVID 19 vaccines is a remarkable accomplishment, successfully immunizing the entire world’s population faces many challenges, from production to distribution, deployment, and most importantly, acceptance. The ability of governments to deliver vaccines effectively and safely and to communicate the advantages of immunization is crucial for maintaining public confidence in vaccines.

Although only a small portion of people have strong anti-vaccination beliefs, hesitation regarding the COVID 19 vaccination. Government efforts to build trust was crucial to the success of vaccination campaigns of the scale required and to the emergence of more resilient societies after the crisis.

The quick success of COVID 19 was influenced by several factors. These include the fact that SARS CoV 2 shares genetic similarities with several other viruses that have been the focus of prior research in the last ten years, so even for more recent technological platforms vaccine Research & Development did not begin from scratch.

The development was made possible by the vast knowledge gained from the use of earlier vaccines, as well as by the unprecedented levels of engagement and collaboration among researchers worldwide.

Governments had to act quickly and put many unplanned measures in place to protect communities at risk ever since the COVID crisis began. In the first months, the widespread use of direct awards as an exceptional measure to procure goods, services, corruption, and fraud works has brought attention to potential integrity risks, most notably that, if not issue was resolved, could significantly reduce the effectiveness of government action.

Finally, governments had to make sure that data and findings from research on drugs and vaccines are released to the public in a clear manner. Several companies published their clinical trial protocols during the COVID 19 vaccine development process, but the key trial results were initially announced in headlines and press releases.

When the first vaccines for Covid-19 were made. Regardless of age, all three vaccines seemed to reduce people’s chances of infection and hospitalization by more than 80%, according to a recent analysis of data from Israel, Sweden, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom (including separate data from England and Scotland). There was surprise and excitement over how effective many of the vaccine candidates seemed to be when the initial COVID-19 vaccine trial results were released in late 2020. (Geddes, 2021)

Since then, more than 3.65 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been distributed worldwide, and new coronavirus types have appeared; some of these can only partially resist the protective immunity provided by these vaccines. (Geddes, 2021)

Research done in Chile on the Sinovac vaccine revealed that it was 87.5% successful in avoiding hospitalizations and 65.9% effective in preventing infections.

The Sinovac vaccine was 49.6% effective against systemic infections, according to data from health professionals in Manaus, Brazil, where the Gamma form accounted for 75% of infections. (Geddes, 2021)

Furthermore, according to a mathematical modeling study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, COVID vaccines saved an estimated 19.8 million lives in their first year by reducing the potential global number of deaths during the pandemic by almost two-thirds. (Wappes, 2022)

On the other hand, an analysis was conducted out in Singapore, where 33 cases in total were included. The participants had a median age of 69 years (23-96 years), with 26 males and 7 females, where 5 died after 72h vaccination. The cause of death was determined without an autopsy because there was evidence of catastrophic causes of death in 3 cases (93.9%), the cause of death was determined to be natural, and in 2 cases (6.1%), it was determined to be unnatural. (YEO, 2022)

This shows that vaccines are in early stages can create health complications to the patient and even lead to death.

There have always been infectious diseases in human history. The COVID-19 pandemic serves as a good example of how consistent they are. Therefore, it is crucial that the interaction of personal and social obligations regarding vaccination decisions and policies stay at the core of future philosophical, sociological, and legal work on vaccination.

When I first started doing research, I had many questions concerning the ethical issues of mass vaccination. For example, if it was unethical not to be vaccinated or not to vaccinate one’s children against certain diseases? What kinds of penalties, if any, should there be for non-vaccination? As it can risk a country’s national health state. How do the small risks of vaccines affect the ethics of individual vaccination decisions and of vaccination policies? Are there any groups that have a special moral obligation to be vaccinated or that vaccination policies should specifically target?

Such questions allowed me to develop my arguments and to point out the type of sources I should use when doing the research.

At first, my views were that vaccines were unethical to a significant extent, because individuals need vaccines to travel, go to work and for their children to go to school. They simply would not be able to live in a community without being vaccinated. As some people also chose not to be vaccinated for Covid-19 as they feared the newly introduced vaccine and government control of the situation.

As I started writing the essay and doing my research, I started exploring the importance of vaccines to history and started looking at the statistics, which changed my perspective. The fact that polio and tetanus vaccination saved millions of lives worldwide helped to change my perspective. What if such vaccines did not exist? Our immune system would be weak, and many would have died of small diseases. As it often occurred in the previous centuries. (Hsu, 2013)

My views were that vaccination was somehow unethical since I saw many protests and different perspectives when Covid-19 vaccines were being introduced. What if any government or any of the big firms and laboratories that created vaccines, such as Pfizer and Moderna, had malicious intentions and wanted to reduce the population or decide to make an experiment to the human population? They could simply create a vaccination campaign against a dangerous disease. But truth is, vaccines are one of the most important factors that shaped international positive healthcare conditions worldwide. (NHS, 2021)

Perhaps a solution to those who do not want to be vaccinated is to create their own lifestyle against the community. Their children could have home school, they would only travel by car, and choose a job that vaccination would not be required. But this would significantly affect their life. Therefore, on my own view, governments should stop imposing a few policies, so that individuals do not feel that they are being slightly forced to be vaccinated. (Wappes, 2022)

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