Why immunization must be made mandatory in times of vaccine hesitancy, and how we can design and implement immunization policies in a practical, trustworthy, and democratic way.
We live in perilous times when a significant number of citizens are either defiantly antivaccination or hesitant to accept vaccinations for themselves or for their children. In Inducing Immunity?, legal philosopher Roland Pierik and bioethicist Marcel Verweij explore ways to regulate collective immunization in as democratic a manner as possible. Approaching the problem as a matter of a conflict between the responsibility of government to protect public health and the basic right to freedom of citizens, Pierik and Verweij argue that John Stuart Mill's harm principle—the idea that individuals should be free to act so long as their actions do not harm others—offers a strong basis for coercive immunization policies.
Covering childhood immunization policies, as well as vaccination programs aimed at adult citizens, the authors argue that a coercive immunization policy in any liberal democracy must first satisfy the principle of proportionality. This leads them to an in-depth exploration of the role of exemptions, the nature of coercion, and the contents of vaccination programs. In the final part of the book, the authors also discuss the importance and scope of freedom of speech, given how the current spread of misinformation has undermined confidence in vaccines.
Offering an in-depth analysis in bioethics and legal philosophy, Inducing Immunity? is a sensible and applicable guide for health professionals, policymakers, and academics alike on how we can—and must—do better with our immunization policies.
Roland Pierik is Professor of Philosophy of Law at the Faculty of Law, Maastricht University, the Netherlands. Pierik was a member of the Health Council of the Netherlands and served in the Health Council's permanent committee on vaccinations, as well as on its committee for COVID-19.
Marcel Verweij is Professor of Philosophical Ethics at Utrecht University. With Angus Dawson, he initiated the journal Public Health Ethics. He has fulfilled advisory roles for public health institutes such as the ECDC, the Health Council of the Netherlands, and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment and has written discussion papers for the World Health Organization on the ethics of maternal immunization and on pandemic preparedness.
“In light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, it is extremely important that we understand the regulatory options for vaccination, a topic that was very hotly debated during the crisis and beyond. This book is unique in its sort in the sense that it is—to my knowledge—the only book that gives an all-around analysis of the matter, including in relation to the important principle of the 'best interest of the child.'”
Brigit Toebes, Professor of Health Law in a Global Context, University of Groningen, the Netherlands
“This book provides a very nuanced philosophical and legal analysis of vaccine mandates, with a balanced assessment of the positive and negative ethical implications of such policies.”
Alberto Giubilini, Senior Research Fellow, Oxford University; author of The Ethics of Vaccination
“Inducing Immunity? delivers the most philosophically sound defense of vaccine mandates yet offered in the literature.”
Mark Christopher Navin, Professor and Chair of Philosophy, Oakland University; author of Values and Vaccine Refusal
“Roland Pierik and Marcel Verweij's Inducing Immunity? constitutes a truly impressive achievement. I imagine that this book will be frequently cited in future debates—about the ethics and politics of vaccination, of course, but also in bioethics scholarship more generally.”