Whether there is a moral obligation to be vaccinated

Objection 1. It seems there is a moral obligation, for one is obligated to care for one’s own body and to care likewise for the body of the neighbor, who by divine command is to be loved as oneself. Now, vaccination may render one’s own body less likely to succumb to a viral infection and less likely to pass on such an infection to the potential harm of the neighbor. Therefore one ought to be vaccinated. As Vitoria says (On the Law of War, Q. 2, art. 2), “any person who has the power to prevent his neighbor’s danger or loss is obliged to do so.”


Reply to Objection 1. The first objection fails in multiple ways. The obligations stated are not absolute but relative, and remain subject to prudence. Moreover, the expected benefits are not certain but only possible, and not necessarily attainable only in this fashion. Moreover, it is unethical to vaccinate those who are not at risk, especially children, for the sake of others (mainly the very elderly) who are at risk, especially when using an experimental vaccine with uncertain long-term effects.

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