Research seminar

Mandatory Vaccination

Research Seminar

Add to calendar 2021-04-12 17:00 2021-04-12 18:30 Europe/Rome Mandatory Vaccination Zoom YYYY-MM-DD


12 April 2021

17:00 - 18:30 Italian time



In this research seminar we will explore various aspects related to mandatory vaccinations, from arguments in favour of mandatory vaccination, to the age-old tension between individual liberties and the public right to health in the context of Covid-19. We will discuss also about the correct balancing of the two legal principles of precaution and proportionality, particularly in the context of childhood vaccination.
Vaccine Mandates: The roots of vaccine resistance

It is 1867 in Leicester, England, riots are in the streets protesting the expansion of the smallpox vaccination mandate. This was the tipping point that triggered the establishment of the first Anti-Compulsory Vaccination League. Vaccine mandates, fines, and sometimes imprisonment have since been used to punish those who do not vaccinate, in even the poorest countries. These coercive measures have provoked protests and demands for personal liberties, as well as individual respect and dignity. This presentation will consider the age-old tension between individual liberties and the public right to health in the context of Covid-19.

Heidi J. Larson is Professor of Anthropology, Risk and Decision Science and is the Founding Director of the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. She is also Clinical Professor of Health Metrics Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, USA, and Guest Professor at the University of Antwerp, Belgium


The case for mandatory vaccination

I present two arguments for mandatory vaccination: one based on harm prevention and the other on fairness. I argue that because because they are almost costless options that contribute to very important collective benefits and public goods, the moral obligation to vaccinate should translate into some form of legal obligation. While these arguments apply to many routine vaccinations (e.g. MMR vaccines), I argue that they don't straightforwardly apply to the case of COVID-19 vaccination, given that COVID-19 is a very low risk disease for most age groups. In particular, the case for mandating COVID-19 vaccination for children is weaker than the standard case for mandatory vaccination more generally. 

Alberto Giubilini is Senior Research Fellow, Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford   


Between Precaution and Proportionality: the regulation of childhood vaccination

How should liberal-democratic governments deal with emerging vaccination hesitancy when that leads to the resurgence of diseases that for decades were under control? I will argue  that vaccination policies should be justified in terms of a proper weighing of the rights of children to be protected against vaccine-preventable diseases and the rights of parents to raise their children in ways that they see fit. That is, vaccination programs should be informed by a correct balancing of the two legal principles of precaution and proportionality. This results in contextual childhood vaccination policies of upscaling interference: a three-tiered approach of increased intrusion, from voluntary program when possible and mandatory or even compulsory programs when necessary.

Roland Pierik is Associate Professor of Legal Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam Law School and member of the vaccination committee of the Health Council of the Netherlands.

This seminar is organised by the Interdisciplinary Research Cluster on 'Democracy in the 21st Century’.

Please register via the link below.

A link to access the preliminary readings will be sent to registered participants, as well as the Zoom link to join the event.


Alberto Giubilini (University of Oxford)

Heidi J. Larson (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine)

Roland Pierik (University of Amsterdam Law School)

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