Ethical Arguments Against Mandatory Vaccination

Even prior to COVID-19, there was a push to mandate vaccines for the greater societal good. This article deals with pre-COVID vaccines and is a more general discussion about mandatory vaccines. Both sides of this issue should be considered.

Updated:   Published

  • Specializes in Critical care, rehab, administration, academics. Has 25 years experience.

You are reading page 2 of Ethical Arguments Against Mandatory Vaccination

Emergent, RN

2 Articles; 4,078 Posts

Specializes in ER. Has 30 years experience.
klone said:

I have long considered that. All of my children are selectively vaccinated, on a delayed schedule. In fact, I mentioned that here once (the idea that the multitude of autoimmune disorders correlated to the many vaccines we give to immature immune systems) many years ago and was excoriated.

That's exactly how I handled it with my children.

Unfortunately, the discussion about vaccines is often dominated by extremes on both sides, and lots of emotion. We saw this intensely during the covid pandemic.

It feels to me like academic researchers have been agenda driven and shortsighted regarding the cumulative effects of vaccines. I remember in nursing school during my OB rotation that we were giving Hep B vaccines to brand new babies. That was 30 years ago when the vaccine was pretty new. I went along with it because I was a nursing student, but I totally disagreed with what I was doing.

Now we have people in their thirties with much higher rates of autoimmune diseases. Type 1 diabetes rates have doubled or tripled since that time. I'd like to see some honest reevaluation of some of the policies that have been in place.

Alice Blackmore

2 Articles; 12 Posts

Specializes in Intensive Care, Paediatrics, Long-term care. Has 38 years experience.

I think people have lost their faith in the medical system from lack of transparency. Why did Pfizer have sealed documents on clinical trial data which they have been forced by courts to open? Who stands to benefit financially from vaccines? Why don't we hear much about vaccine injury from vaccines such as Dengvaxia given in the Philippines? Why is it "wrong" to discuss both sides? Most would agree that vaccines have saved us from the horrors of Polio and Smallpox. So what has changed?

Specializes in Physiology, CM, consulting, nsg edu, LNC, COB. Has 53 years experience.

I read with interest the article entitled "Ethical Arguments Against Mandatory Vaccination.” I note that it was "reviewed and fact-checked" by the AN editorial team. I'm afraid you may have missed a few important points. As an editor myself, I would point out that words such as "indoctrinated" do not lead the reader to expect a dispassionate discussion of an ethical topic. However, this critique is based more on the misrepresentations and other disinformation in the science literature here. A responsible fact checker and editor would have gone to the original source material cited to see if it really says what the author presents. TD;Dr: It doesn't.

This article highlights some very questionable sources as if they were promulgating genuine research. The "Centre for Research on Globalization" is one such. "Globalization" has a legitimate definition and is a field of study on many reputable areas in sociology, economics, climate, and health, to name a few, at universities as diverse as Yale, Groningen, and Oslo.
However, it is also broadly used as a code word in association with George Soros's name, for a "global conspiracy" in right-wing circles and publications, which antisemitic origins are as scurrilous as time.  A sample from a fact-finding article on them:
"Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered in his hospital room by J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI and not, as is commonly accepted, by a gunman dead set against the civil-rights leader's crusade. Israel has plans to annex large swaths of Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq. The American military is dispersing heavy metals in the skies, giving the public cancer and asthma. And of course, the World Trade Center buildings were not brought down by commercial airliners but by controlled demolition."
"Those are all uncontroversial realities for the Centre for Research on Globalization, a Canadian-based conspiracy website run, since 2001, by Michel Chossudovsky, professor emeritus of economics from the University of Ottawa, who is also one of the site's most prolific writers. (Ling, 2021,"

The AHRQ references to VAERS links to a 14-year old preliminary description of a proposed sysytem of data collection, not to any reporting of adverse reports and certainly not to any research linking any methods of adverse reactions to vaccines. Note that "related to" is not equivalent to "caused by" here, as no such investigations were undertaken or reported in this report. While it was retrieved in 2020 by this author, the data are from 2006-2009.  The main objectives of this project were to:
Identify required data elements and develop systems to monitor ambulatory care EMRs for adverse events following vaccine administration.
Prepare and securely submit clinician approved, electronic reports to the national Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).
Comprehensively evaluate ESP: VAERS performance in a randomized trial and compare it with existing VAERS and Vaccine Safety Datalink data.
Distribute documentation and application software developed and refined in 1 and 2 that are portable to other ambulatory care settings and to other EMR systems.
Preliminary data were collected from June 2006 through October 2009 on 715,000 patients. A total of 1.4 million vaccine doses (of 45 different vaccines) were given to 376,452 individuals. Of these doses, 35,570 possible reactions (2.6 percent of vaccinations) were identified. This is an average of 1.3 events per clinician per month. The team concluded that it is possible to automatically detect adverse events in defined ways, and to electronically report them to VAERS. Decision support functions can be repurposed, so that in addition to detecting reportable diseases, they can detect events that are related to vaccination, as potential vaccine adverse events.

The McGovern citation for "Dirty vaccines ... prevalence of contaminants" is a review article at the website from the so-called Children's Medical Safety Research Institute (CMSRI) which was a US-based anti-vaccination group that funded and then promulgated pseudoscience about vaccines purposting to link aluminum in vaccines to autism. This article touts a study published in the "International Journal of Vaccines and Vaccinations,” which is a predatory journal known to publish junk science. Predatory journals charge authors for their submissions, do not do real peer review, and choose their names to resemble real ones, in this case, the well-established Journal of Vaccines and Immunology, in order to seem more scholarly. You can search "Beall's List" for more information on this movement.

These articles and pseudoscience "studies" were withdrawn, roundly discredited, and debunked by the Lancet, the Annals of Internal Medicine, legitimate researchers in the World Health Organization, and others. I don't ordinarily give Wikipedia as a source for information, but their articles do have links to original sources, and you can find them there easily. (Garland DE, 2019)

The Coors et al. citation on polysorbate is a single case report, not a study; its references were from 1995-2002 and largely from the dermatology and lab science literature. As the citation is from 1995, I wonder why the actual article as linked includes references from 2002.

The 2014 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine formaldehyde report associating formaldehyde with cancer "reviewed reports published by other authoritative bodies, and it examined primary literature, reviews, and meta-analyses that were publicly available in the peer-reviewed literature." If is freely available online in PDF. I read it all so you don't have to, but if you're interested, the section on exposure assessment is illustrative, page 186 ff. TL;Dr: They looked at occupational exposure, both peak and cumulative over time. There is absolutely nothing in this report related to formaldehyde in vaccinations. (

The University of Oxford in 2022 notes that the amount of formaldehyde left in vaccines during manufacture is less than the amount naturally occurring in the human body. "People may think of formaldehyde as a man-made chemical, but in small quantities it is also found naturally in the bloodstream.” ( "Humans produce about 1.5 ounces of formaldehyde a day as a normal part of our metabolism. Inhaled formaldehyde is rapidly metabolized and ultimately converted to carbon dioxide and exhaled. Formaldehyde does not accumulate in the body.”(American Chemistry Council, 2022,

The Demicheli et al. report of Cochrane Review on vaccines does not state that their results were "fallible" or that flu vaccine is not of use. The article cited, updated in 2014, also looks at data from 1969-2009, and finds, "We did not find any evidence of an association between influenza vaccination and serious adverse events in the comparative studies considered in this review. Fifteen included RCTs were industry funded (29%).” We do know now that before mRNA vaccines were made, the flu vaccine took 18 months to produce, and was therefore based on a best guess as to the prevalent strain that would be circulating more than a year later. Since the influenza virus mutates rapidly and often, some years the vaccine was effective over the prevalent strain, and sometimes it wasn't.

The Modrof et al. study cited does not say that measles vaccines "fail,” or become less effective. It described findings in healthy plasma donors whose plasma was used to harvest IVIG, intravenous immunoglobulin, a therapeutic preparation with application as antibody replacement therapy in persons with primary immunodeficiency disorders. Persons who had been vaccinated had lower titers than people with natural infection, which was a problem because they couldn't produce as much for harvesting. "This study aimed to confirm whether the introduction of measles vaccination in the early 1960s in the United Stated led to an almost complete disappearance of natural infections, that translated into lower measles virus antibody titers in source plasma donors. Subsequently, revaccination of plasma donors was investigated as a means to potentially boost measles virus antibody titers, an intervention that might allow manufacturers to meet the minimum potency requirements as defined by the FDA."

The Klein et al. article indicates that pertussis antibodies conferred by the combined tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccines of childhood wane after the fifth dose at age 4-6.  Adolescents who took the later doses of Tdap (a different formulation) were more likely to test positive for pertussis the longer it was from their last vaccine. That's not a failure, that's congruent with the decreased pertussis coverage after the DTaP of early childhood. This means that the Tdap should be given more often in adolescents to maintain coverage. "Routine Tdap did not prevent pertussis outbreaks. Among adolescents who have only received DTaP vaccines in childhood, Tdap provided moderate protection against pertussis during the first year and then waned rapidly so that litle protection remained 2-3 years after vaccination."

The Seagal et al. article cited does not say that vaccinations "have been shown to lose effectiveness dramatically over time,” contrary to this author's assertion. TL;Dr: Here's their methods and result.
Methods: Children vaccinated with the second dose of measles, mumps, rubella vaccine (MMR2) at 4-6 years of age were followed up to 12 years post-vaccination. The rates of antibody decline were assessed using regression models, accounting for differences between and within subjects.
Results: Most of the 302 participants were seropositive throughout follow-up (96% measles, 88% mumps, 79% rubella). The rate of antibody decline was associated with MMR2 response and baseline titer for measles and age at first dose of MMR (MMR1) for rubella.

I did not research all the citations for ethics for this critique. However, if they are as inaccurate and distored as the "unknown science" presented, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised.

allnurses Guide

wtbcrna, MSN, DNP, CRNA

5,111 Posts

Specializes in Anesthesia.

Vaccine safety and effectiveness is always being researched. Vaccines are the only pharmaceutical product that has to undergo constant phase IV/post-marketing testing for safety and effectiveness. 
Aluminum adjuncts have been exhaustively tested. The whole argument against aluminum always skips the basic premise that aluminum is the most common metal in the Earth's crust. We eat, drink, and breathe in aluminum constantly. By the time we are adults your bones and tissues have more stored aluminum than in all vaccines combined. 
We are here to do no harm to our patients and one of those ways is by decreasing the risk of spreading infections. That can be by proper hygiene/washing hands, wearing masks/PPE, and being vaccinated. 

Herd immunity does not mean that a vaccinated person cannot get measles/influenza etc. Herd immunity decreases the overall spread of infectious illness. Measles has a 90% infection rate (the effectiveness of two doses measles vaccines is 98%) and the measles virus can stay active in the air for two hours after the infected person leaves. Assuming that herd immunity didn't work and in college campus where a 1,000 people came into contact with 1-2 being infected you would about 20 to be infected. Instead at most we rarely we see 2-3 become infected and that is mainly d/t herd immunity.


allnurses Guide

wtbcrna, MSN, DNP, CRNA

5,111 Posts

Specializes in Anesthesia.

"Q. Why should my newborn receive the hepatitis B vaccine if I know that I am not infected with hepatitis B virus?

A. Before the hepatitis B vaccine became a routine recommendation in 1991, every year about 18,000 children in the United States were infected with hepatitis B before they reached 10 years of age. Half of those 18,000 early-life infections were not contracted during birth from an infected mother. Instead, they were caused by exposure to someone who, knowingly or not, was infected with hepatitis B virus. Because the hepatitis B virus is present in such large quantities in the blood of someone who is infected, it can be transmitted through quantities of blood not able to be seen with the naked eye, such as from shared toothbrushes or washcloths. Because a large number of people infected with hepatitis B are unaware they have the disease, it is extremely difficult to be confident we can avoid the infection through our own actions.”


allnurses Guide

wtbcrna, MSN, DNP, CRNA

5,111 Posts

Specializes in Anesthesia.

"Numerous studies have examined many different vaccines. To date, none have consistently been shown to cause autoimmune diseases. In some studies influenza vaccine was shown to cause GBS at a rate of one case per million vaccine recipients. But, this should be viewed in light of the fact that natural influenza infection causes GBS in 17 per million people infected. So, in a sense, influenza vaccine could be viewed as preventing a more common cause of GBS.”

allnurses Guide

wtbcrna, MSN, DNP, CRNA

5,111 Posts

Specializes in Anesthesia.
Alice Blackmore said:

I think people have lost their faith in the medical system from lack of transparency. Why did Pfizer have sealed documents on clinical trial data which they have been forced by courts to open? Who stands to benefit financially from vaccines? Why don't we hear much about vaccine injury from vaccines such as Dengvaxia given in the Philippines? Why is it "wrong" to discuss both sides? Most would agree that vaccines have saved us from the horrors of Polio and Smallpox. So what has changed?

When people say they want to discuss both sides they often mean they want to talk about conspiracies and pseudoscience articles/websites. 

I would say people have lost faith in vaccines because of misinformation from people that do not understand the science and wish to demonize vaccines for whatever goal. We are currently seeing a global drop in vaccine rates for this very reason.

The smallpox vaccine has always had some of the worst side effect profiles and still does to this day. Smallpox is still a requirement for all military personnel and certain first responders. 


10,331 Posts

Specializes in NICU, PICU, Transport, L&D, Hospice. Has 44 years experience.

Thank you to the health professionals offering a reasoned argument for use of vaccines to protect our people and economy. 

Specializes in Trauma/surgical/neuro critical care. Has 8 years experience.

Why does AN allow this trash? And this was supposedly reviewed by the editorial team? Let's start with the beginning. OP's bias is evident right from the get-go with "The CDC purports that vaccines protect the public" and it went straight downhill from there. The entire post is a beautiful example of how someone can cite cherry-picked science and have a basic grasp on the English language to throw together a post that would be convincing if you didn't understand what was being discussed. This is pure propaganda and just contributes to confusing parents into not trusting the real science.

I looked into just the very first study that was presented under vaccine safety (Lyons-Weiler & Ricketson, 2018) and it amounts to nothing more than a flawed thought experiment. We have actual experimental data regarding aluminum in children so when you evaluate this study in a broader context is contributes absolutely nothing. This makes sense when you dig deeper and look at the authors and their motivation. James Lyons-Weiler is a known anti-vaccine activist that pushed numerous false claims during the height of COVID. He made it to PolitiFact and was roundly debunked there. That was just the first study.

I'm tired of people pretending that vaccines have this huge conspiracy behind them like there hasn't been decades of studies and actual vaccines pulled from the market when appropriate.

Specializes in Psychiatry, Community, Nurse Manager, hospice. Has 7 years experience.

This is very poorly written. 

Specializes in Trauma/surgical/neuro critical care. Has 8 years experience.
ldhrn73 said:

Most universities require vaccines, so they DO claim close to 95% vaccinations. Yet several measles outbreaks have been recorded on university campuses and were seen almost exclusively in fully vaccinated students. I researched 2 such cases, one in upstate New York and one on the University of Arkansas campus. Once the statistics were completed, the sources for both of these cases were deleted from the sites. And I then heard on mainstream news stations that they were the fault of unvaccinated. This kind of sparked my digging into questions.

This has to be trolling. You do realize colleges allow for waivers and partial vaccination, right? I can't find anything close to that number.

"Upstate New York" was too broad so I looked at University of Arkansas and I'm not entirely sure what you're referencing. I've learned you take liberties with your speech so I'm assuming you meant the 2016-2017 or 2019 mumps outbreaks? In this case you're confusing vaccination status. The majority of those students in both cases appear to have been partially vaccinated which, as a PhD candidate interested in vaccines, you know is not the same as fully vaccinated. I'm not even going to get into what your idea of "completed" statistics are or whatever new conspiracy you're trying to push there.

I'm also hoping you understand that vaccines are not a guarantee. Two doses of the MMR vaccine has an 88% effectiveness against mumps. I also hope you can appreciate I don't get excited about a small college outbreak when put into context of the hundreds of thousands of cases there were each year in the US before a vaccine was introduced.

I really get that you're hoping everyone will buy into this narrative you're throwing out but you have to do better. This isn't Twitter or Reddit. These baseless claims and empty articles aren't going to fly here.