COVID-19 vaccination should not be mandatory for health and social care workers

Daniel Rodger, Bruce P. Blackshaw

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A COVID-19 vaccine mandate is being introduced for health and social care workers in England, and those refusing to comply will either be redeployed or have their employment terminated. We argue that COVID-19 vaccination should not be mandatory for these workers for several reasons. First, it ignores their genuine concerns, and fails to respect their moral integrity and bodily autonomy. Second, it risks causing psychological reactance, potentially worsening vaccine hesitancy. Third, Black and minority ethnic workers are less likely to have been vaccinated and therefore may be disproportionately impacted by the implications of the mandate. Fourth, a mandate could have a significant negative effect on service provision. Fifth, waning immunity and new variants mean that booster doses are increasingly likely to be regularly required, meaning that what constitutes being ‘fully vaccinated’ will be a constantly shifting target. Finally, vaccine mandates may have an adverse effect on health and social care recruitment. We argue that daily rapid antigen testing is a viable alternative to a vaccine mandate that is non-coercive and fair. This could also be supplemented by monetary incentives to be vaccinated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-39
Number of pages13
JournalThe New Bioethics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) reported there is no funding associated with the work featured in this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Autonomy
  • COVID-19
  • Mandatory vaccination
  • Patient Safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Health Policy
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Reproductive Medicine


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