There is a lot of talk concerning a vaccine passport that would be required to participate in society. The Biden administration has given the green light to employers to mandate their employees take the Covid-19 vaccine. This is despite the chemical concoction not being approved by the FDA, and being fast-tracked under emergency orders, thanks to Donald Trump. This mRNA vaccine has also not undergone any extensive human trials, so there is no way of knowing what its true effects will be. Vaccines generally take years to develop and according to the CDC, testing occurs in three phases and can continue until proven safe on thousands of people. Having been approved under emergency conditions, it would be morally and ethically wrong for employers to mandate it to anyone.
The idea of employer-mandated jabs originated from a New England Journal of Medicine article entitled Ensuring Uptake of Vaccines against SARS-CoV-2. The article lays out the basis of employer mandates by highlighting the fact that constitutional and due process issues can be avoided. They also cite the public-school system’s vaccination requirements for children as an indicator that this may be a successful route for ensuring mass vaccination compliance. To be fair, the article does suggest that this a route that should be taken only when there is an immediate threat and, that there is an available means of collecting just compensation in the event of adverse effects. Vaccine companies are immune from liability therefore if employers are forcing people to get the shot, they should assume some responsibility.
One problem with employer mandates revolves around the issue of informed consent. This is the moral and legal principle protecting the right of individuals to make informed decisions about any medical procedures they may be facing. Doctors are required, by law, to provide patients with information pertaining to negative consequences of the treatment as well as alternatives. If employers are mandating the vaccine, are they going to provide informed consent? With the experimental nature of the Covid-19 shot, it would be impossible for them to do so. It is highly unlikely that the medical professionals giving the shot would be able to provide you with the necessary information to make an informed decision.
Interestingly, The New England Journal of Medicine published a piece in 1997 highlighting the importance of informed consent, tracing its origins back to the Nuremberg Medical Trials (NMT). The article claims that nobody should be forced to participate in any medical procedure against their will. Keep in mind, the nature of that article revolves around gaining consent from people who were being experimented on in WWII Germany. The Covid-19 vaccine is indeed an ongoing experiment, as there were no human trials before its release. As the CDC website noted, tests can go on until it is proven safe on thousands of people.
One of the origins of the informed consent concept being cited was the German government’s use of experimental vaccines. According to an article entitled The Origins of Informed Consent: The International Scientific Commission on Medical War Crimes, and the Nuremberg Code, guidelines establishing an ethical approach to human medical experiments were first established in response to the death of 77 out of 256 children due to the forced injections of contaminated vaccines. This resulted in regulations governing new therapies and human experiments in February 1931 (Weindling, 2001). Informed consent, according to the Oxford Book of Clinical Research, is the “voluntary, competent, informed and, understanding consent” (Grodin & Annas, 2008) of the individual in question for lawful human experimentation. Informed consent also requires the subject has the right to withdraw from the procedure at any time. According to Grodin & Annas, (2008) doctors in the U.S. initially saw the Nuremberg Code as something that did not necessarily apply to western medicine, as only a regime as detestable as Nazi Germany would need such a thing. This is despite the code originating in a U.S. Army court in response to the atrocities committed by the Nazis.
While many people may argue that the Covid-19 vaccine is not a human experiment, the fact remains that it was produced and fast-tracked under emergency conditions. Theoretically, it is being tested on humans while it is being rolled out. The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) shows thousands of adverse reactions to the Covid-19 vaccine since being introduced at the beginning of the year. The vaccine companies are completely immune from prosecution. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is a taxpayer-funded, government initiative where those suffering adverse reactions to a vaccine may be able to seek just compensation. The individual filing the claim must be able to prove the vaccine is responsible, and not another underlying health condition. This is nearly impossible to do.
Allowing employers to mandate vaccines of any kind under the threat of any punishment, or loss of job for failing to comply, as the article Ensuring Uptake of Vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 suggests, goes against the very principles the New England Journal of Medicine defended in the article, Fifty Years Later: The Significance of the Nuremberg Code. If vaccine companies cannot be held liable, the employer, by mandating vaccines, is taking it upon themselves to hold the taxpayer accountable for any adverse reactions their employees may have. Unless, of course, the employers themselves are willing to accept full responsibility. This is unlikely to happen. It is safe to say that companies currently enforcing mask mandates, despite the contradicting evidence of their effectiveness, will also, at some point, jump on board the idea of mandating vaccines. Knowing there is nowhere to turn in the event of an adverse reaction and still mandating it, while perhaps legal, is an immoral and unethical act. Especially considering that the vaccine has not been approved by the FDA in any form.
Grodin, M. A. & Annas, J. G. (2008) The Nuremberg Code. From The Oxford Textbook of Clinical Research Ethics. Oxford University Press
Mello, M. M., Silverman, D. R., & Omer, B. S. (2020) Ensuring uptake of vaccines against Sars-Cov-2. The New England journal of medicine, 383(14). 1296-1299
Schuster, E. (1997) Fifty years later: The significance of the Nuremberg Code. The New England journal of medicine, 337. 1436-1440
Weindling, P. (2001) The origins of informed consent: The international scientific commission on medical war crimes, and the Nuremberg Code. Bulletin of the history of medicine, 75(1). 37-71