Many people in Canada and elsewhere are debating whether or not it would be justifiable to mandate that all Canadians get fully vaccinated against Covid-19, unless they have good medical grounds for not taking them. Saying one does not want to take the vaccine would not be enough. Unless you are entitled to a genuine medical exemption the law would to some debatable extent require you to be vaccinated. To some extent we are already there. The law requires you to be vaccinated to cross the Canadian border. The law now requires some people with some jobs to be vaccinated, or at least be tested regularly.
Would such an imposition be morally acceptable in a free and democratic society? What about freedom of security—i.e. that one has the right to determine for oneself what can be placed inside one’s body. For example, one cannot be compelled to take any medical treatment if one is not harming others, even if it is very unwise to decline the treatment and, in fact, even if declining the treatment would likely lead to one’s own death. This is the right of autonomy. It is a very important right. But even this right is not absolute.
First of all, we must realize there is a spectrum of mandates. It is one thing to say to anyone, on penalty of law, you must get vaccinated, no matter what you think of it. If the person does not agree would that person be held down while health officials jab the arm of the resister? That would be an extreme form of mandating a vaccine. Very few of us would say the law should go that far. But some do. On the other hand, to say, on penalty of law, that if you do not get vaccinated you are not entitled to go to a movie theatre, sporting event, cultural event, bar restaurant, etc. is another form of mandating. This type of mandate is a little less extreme. Few of us object to this. But some do. This is a much milder form of mandate, but it is a mandate. I happen to think it is a valid one perfectly justifiable in a free and democratic society. This would withdraw a privilege for one who does not consent to get vaccinated, but it is not as extreme as my first example. Yet both are forms of vaccine mandates.
I want to explore this issue farther in future posts. How far can the government go in mandating vaccines? When is a form of mandate morally acceptable? When not? If it is justified how far can we go? I think these are all important questions.
The questions is how far can we go in mandating vaccines and is it justifiable under the Canadian constitution? Is it legal. Is it moral? Right now these are big questions because of the large number of people that are resisting vaccines. These are people I am calling Resisters. I want to meander through these moral and legal questions.