Dilemma Of Human Rights And Human Survival: Mandatory Vaccination

Pandemic Aug 20, 2021

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While nations battle to moderate the impacts of the virus and embrace quick immunization, the dilemma of whether or not states can ‘force’ their residents to go vaccinate has emerged. Obligatory immunization arrangements lead to concerns about the State impinging upon the Fundamental rights of the individual. As a result, Governments are constrained to seek a reasonable balance between public health and individual liberty. And in the act of establishing ‘ community immunity ', governments might make people's liberty to make medical decisions for themselves.

Grassroots

At the core of this legitimate conundrum, lies the old struggle between public welfare and personal rights. How could the State or the business find some kind of harmony between public welfare that widespread immunization guarantees and the personal rights of the individual? Genocides, annihilations, and holocaust have left a lasting mark on post-war constitutions, and led the world to agree upon international agreements and revelations to slightly tilt individual rights in the name of "public welfare".

No ‘Force’, just disincentives

A few nations have opted for obligatory Covid immunization approaches. Such strategies don't use force but subtly pressure with negative consequences. They indirectly authorize the vaccination, through the fear of disincentives, if there should arise an occurrence of refusal.

For instance, Italy and Britain have made it obligatory for healthcare workers to get immunized, with refusal to do so prompting endless suspension without pay. Saudi Arabia, in the meantime, has made vaccines compulsory for all private and public laborers to get back to their particular work environments. The African country of Djibouti, then again, has made immunization obligatory for the entirety of its adult population.

According to India's Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, COVID-19 vaccination is voluntary. But in certain regions, like Uttar Pradesh and Odisha, merchants and dealers must get vaccinated before they can continue with their commercial activities. Assam has also mandated vaccinations for all of its government employees.

Constitutional Rights to Privacy

In India, the right to life is explicitly ensured by Article 21 of the Constitution. The Supreme Court, in its milestone judgment in Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) v/s Union of India, (2017) 10 SCC 1, judicially developed the right to privacy as a component of the right to life.

But...

Given the widespread impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and high fatalities, vaccinating people to control the spread of illness would qualify as an authentic state point, as long as it is done legally.

The Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897 and the Disaster Management Act of 2005 provide the government broad powers, which might include requiring mandatory COVID vaccinations.

Conclusion

Even if it is an individual’s right to decide on their medical needs and the government has made it voluntary, it is needless to say that an individual must try to prevent oneself from being a superspreader and threatening their immediate surroundings. Provided that the state has every power in the legal sphere to smack down any possible threat for community transmission, it is surely not a violation of human rights. Although, not being able to choose between the vaccines available and being clueless about the substance is something to think about.

This article has been written by Apurva Kale for The Paradigm.

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