Opposing Views on Mandatory Vaccination

The Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly exposed the healthcare sector to numerous situations that amount to an ethical dilemma. The nursing professionals have been on the frontline in the fight against the pandemic and as such have faced numerous ethical issues emanating from their line of work and societal demands. The main ethical principles that guide the nursing practice include the principle of non-maleficence-duty to cause no harm and beneficence-nurses’ duty to do good for all patients. One major responsibility given to the nurses is administering the Covid-19 vaccine to the general population are also considered. Therefore, as frontline personnel in the fight against the pandemic, it was deemed important for them to undergo mandatory vaccination. A family friend, Mrs. Jane Doe, is among the nurses affected by the mandatory vaccination policy that targets healthcare workers.

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At first, Mrs. Jane Doe resisted undergoing vaccination as she considered it something that was being done against her will because of the numerous uncertainties surrounding the authenticity and effectiveness of the vaccine. However, due to the risks involved as a nurse and duty to cause no harm to patients, she had no choice but to undergo vaccination. This issue brought about ethical consideration issues regarding the application of autonomy on matters of such high magnitude. As a health worker, Mrs. Doe must minimize the risk of spreading or contracting the virus to other people, considering the high number of patients she handles at the health facility. Furthermore, nurses have the responsibility of vaccinating the rest of the population, hence vaccinating others, while at the same time being against the procedure could have caused a lot of ethical issues for Mrs. Doe. She eventually took the jab to avoid putting herself and others at risk of contracting the virus.

Controversies in the Dilemma

As frontline healthcare personnel and a nurse, Mrs. Jane Doe has a moral obligation to extend care to patients, family members, and themselves. Apart from the duty of care, nurses have the responsibility of alleviating suffering, restore patients’ health and above all show respect and dignity to patients indiscriminately (McKenna, 2020; Olson & Strokes, 2016). However, nurses must strike a balance between their obligations towards patients and their welfare. In other words, a nurse should not put their lives at risk at the expense of extending care to others. For instance, there have been numerous cases of lack of personal protective kits in a number of countries, especially in the less developed ones. Therefore, it is imperative for nurses to find this balance in discharging their duty. The greater issue, however, comes to play when healthcare institutions impose mandatory policies meant to ensure the safety of healthcare workers (Galanakis et al., 2013). However, some of these policies may go against the personal beliefs and preferences of some individuals.

Mrs. Doe’s case presents a number of controversies both from personal and professional perspectives. On a personal level, Mrs. Doe felt she should have a say on matters affecting her health, especially when numerous uncertainties were surrounding the subject (“Safety of COVID-19 vaccines,” 2021). According to Mrs. Doe, a person ought to have autonomy on what goes into their bodies and that external forces should not be the ones determining the same. At the same time, mandatory vaccination is meant to protect the nurses against contracting the virus and hence enable healthcare personnel to be the barrier much needed to effectively deal with the pandemic. In other words, a vaccinated healthcare worker will be immune to the virus and effectively continue with their duties, hence accorded the protection against dangers of the virus. In addition, nurses extend care to patients as they won’t spread the virus to other patients considering the high level of interaction experienced in their line of duty.

Although Mrs. Doe might have had the right to determine whether to take the vaccine or not, there were much greater risks if she opted not to take the jab. This brings to light various controversies from Mrs. Doe’s case. First, she would have put herself and family and coworkers in danger and also become a super spreader to patients if she were to contract the virus. Therefore, prioritizing healthcare workers and making it mandatory for them to undergo vaccination is a move meant to protect the nurses and the general population against the dangers of the vaccine. In that case, the most ethical decision to take not only by Mrs. Doe but by all healthcare workers is to accept the policy and undergo mandatory vaccination as it leads to a greater good not only personally but for the society as a whole.

Application of Aristotle’s Golden Mean to the Dilemma

Aristotle’s golden mean principle calls for one to strive for a balance between two extreme ends. Subscribers of the golden mean do not necessarily conform to the demands of other people or institutions just for the sake of it (Lawrence, 2021). They would rather apply moderation in their doings rather than conforming to the extremities put forth by external pressures. According to this theory, acting with moderation is considered morally right. Acting moderately in Mrs. Doe’s situation would be to resign from her job to avoid mandatory vaccination.

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Application of Utilitarianism to the Dilemma

Utilitarianism effectively applies to ethical issues facing society. Adherents of utilitarianism hold the view that something is morally right if and only if it leads to the greater good (Hennig & Hütter, 2020). Application of utilitarianism on Mrs. Doe’s dilemma would lead to her taking the Jan considering the risks involved and her duty towards the community. Taking the vaccine would not only protect her from the dangers of the virus but also prevent spreading to other people, including patients and family members, which leads to the most happiness.

Application of Natural Law Ethics to the Dilemma

The natural law theory states that human beings have inherent values that govern their reason in determining what is good and what is wrong. These values are universal to all human beings and are not determined by existing institutions in society (Hennig & Hütter, 2020). In this regard, it would only have been right to take the jab, as it is the only option that is morally completing despite the personal fears exhibited by Mrs. Doe.

Considering the magnitude of the pandemic and its implications for humanity, the most viable theory to apply would definitely be utilitarianism. The Covid-19 pandemic is the closest thing that came to threatening humanity and society as we knew it, and taking the necessary measures to combat the threat is the only option that ought to be taken by all stakeholders involved. Application of Natural law of ethics is applicable as it compels one to take the jab as it is morally right to do so. However, the golden mean principle is individualistic and does not serve any justice to the person and society at large. The two theories, utilitarianism and natural law ethics conform, to my thinking of moral choices as they lead to a greater good.

References

Galanakis, E., Jansen, A., Lopalco, P. L., & Giesecke, J. (2013). Ethics of mandatory vaccination for healthcare workers. Eurosurveillance, 18(45), 20627.

Hennig, M., & Hütter, M. (2020). Revisiting the divide between deontology and utilitarianism in moral dilemma judgment: A multinomial modeling approach. Journal of personality and social psychology, 118(1), 22.

Lawrenz, J. (2021). Confucius, Aristotle, and the Golden Mean: A Diptych on Ethical Virtues. The European Legacy, 26(2), 149-169.

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McKenna H. (2020). Covid-19: Ethical issues for nurses. International journal of nursing studies, 110, 103673. Web.

Olson, L. L., & Stokes, F. (2016). The ANA code of ethics for nurses with interpretive statements: Resource for nursing regulation. Journal of Nursing Regulation, 7(2), 9–20. Web.

Safety of COVID-19 vaccines. (2021). CDC. Web.

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