Giubilini, A., Savulescu, J. and Wilkinson, D., (2021), 'Which Vaccine? The Cost of Religious Freedom in Vaccination Policy', Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, Vol: 18(4): 609-619 [PMC8696246]
We discuss whether and under what conditions people should be allowed to choose which COVID-19 vaccine to receive on the basis of personal ethical views. The problem arises primarily with regard to some religious groups' concerns about the connection between certain COVID-19 vaccines and abortion. Vaccines currently approved in Western countries make use of foetal cell lines obtained from aborted foetuses either at the testing stage (Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines) or at the development stage (Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine). The Catholic Church's position is that, if there are alternatives, Catholic people have a moral obligation to request the vaccine whose link with abortion is more remote, which at present means that they should refuse the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. We argue that any consideration regarding free choice of the vaccine should apply to religious and non-religious claims alike, in order to avoid religion-based discrimination. However, we also argue that, in a context of limited availability, considering the significant differences in costs and effectiveness profile of the vaccines available, people should only be allowed to choose the preferred vaccine if: 1) this does not risk compromising vaccination strategies; and 2) they internalize any additional cost that their choice might entail. The State should only subsidize the vaccine that is more cost-effective for any demographic group from the point of view of public health strategies.
Publisher website: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11673-021-10148-6
All OUCs Open Access papers are available on our Open Access webpage
Wellcome Trust WT203132 (Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities)
Wellcome Trust WT104848 (Responsibility and Healthcare Project)
UKRI [Grant number AH/V006819/] (Ethical Exit Strategy)