oa Current Allergy & Clinical Immunology - Vaccination and ethical issues : review article

Volume 22, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1609-3607



Compulsory vaccination was originally introduced for smallpox, and mandatory immunisation is still in force in some countries. Vaccination is no longer compulsory in South Africa, but carries significant benefits both for individuals and for the community. An ethical dilemma is posed by the fact that the vaccine is administered to a healthy child, with the intention of protecting both the individual child and the community, but the risk has to be borne by the child alone. The antivaccination lobby claims that there is an association between measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism, but there are no data to support this. Parents generally have the best interests of the child at heart, and parental autonomy to refuse vaccination should be respected unless the child is considered to be at significant risk from that refusal. Equity of access to vaccinations is ensured by the public health system in South Africa. The introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and rotavirus vaccine into the immunisation programme is in the interests of the public, but carries significant cost implications.

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