Mandatory vaccination of health profession students: Duty of Care or infringement on autonomy

Mrs Roseanne Sadd1

1Otago University, Tauranga, New Zealand

Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination of health profession students is justified as a duty of care to students, their patients, and the public at large. Health profession students have a duty of care to towards those they are caring for within their educational and experiential level of learning, while health care and educational institutions responsible for health profession students have a duty of care to protect the student and public from harm.
Health workers including health profession students are a priority group for vaccination against COVID-19. Research into voluntary vaccination uptake rates for influenza by health professionals indicates mandatory vaccination is a necessity for COVID-19 herd immunity rates to be met. There is ethical concern regarding the loss of autonomy when mandating vaccination for health profession students for COVID-19. Any potential benefit to patients and society must outweigh possible harms to the student, balanced with minimising the harm of non-vaccination. If mandatory vaccination policies are implemented, a requirement to inform, provide education and acknowledge concerns must still be met.


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