[How to Defend Mandatory Immunization Against Vaccine Hesitancy and Vaccine Refusal? An Ethical Assessment].

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Civaner M. M.

Mikrobiyoloji bulteni, vol.57, no.1, pp.156-170, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 57 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.5578/mb.20239913
  • Journal Name: Mikrobiyoloji bulteni
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, BIOSIS, EMBASE, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.156-170
  • Keywords: Vaccination, vaccine hesitancy, vaccination refusal, anti-vaccination movement, medical ethics
  • Bursa Uludag University Affiliated: Yes


One of the basic ethical principles in medical practice is to respect personal autonomy. However, it is a widely accepted view that when it comes to health problems that concern not only the individual but also the society, especially in epidemics of infectious diseases, individual autonomy can be violated by prioritizing the benefit of the community. This view is based on the scientific fact that epidemics can only be controlled by immunizing all susceptible individuals. However, whether all susceptible individuals can be compelled to be immunized remains a matter of debate around the world. Especially in the last three years, during the worldwide Coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, a significant part of the society has been hesitant about being vaccinated, and some have argued that vaccines should be rejected altogether. In the face of the situation outlined above, the question of "should immunization be mandatory?" has become more important than ever to be able to answer the question in a way that will ensure as broad consensus as possible. In this review article; it was discussed under which conditions mandatory immunization could be justified in terms of ethics and thus, it was aimed to contribute to the solution of the vital problem created by the phenomenon of vaccine hesitancy and rejection in terms of public health. To this aim, first of all, the need to clarify some concepts was mentioned. Afterwards, the arguments "must be compulsory", "should be optional", and "should not be done to anyone" were evaluated with their justifications and it was determined that the argument that immunization should be mandatory could be justified in terms of ethics. In the article, it was argued that the conflicts of "individual freedom X community benefit" and "personal autonomy X community benefit" did not exist in today's actual conditions, but it was stated that an individual with the knowledge of reality experiences a tension in the face of not putting this knowledge into practice. It was emphasized that in order to overcome this tension, consolidation of the theoretical background and also consideration of the macro determinants of vaccine hesitancy and rejection in practice were necessary. What needs to be done to re-establish trust in the medical institution was listed, and it was argued that the question of how to implement mandatory immunization could only be answered in a healthy way through a transformation process that will be implemented through a social dialogue.