Public Health Ethics
Volume 13, Issue 2, July 2020
Vaccination Policies: Between Best and Basic Interests of the Child, between Precaution and Proportionality
Roland Pierik firstname.lastname@example.org
Public Health Ethics, Volume 13, Issue 2, July 2020, Pages 201–214, https://doi.org/10.1093/phe/phaa008
How should liberal-democratic governments deal with emerging vaccination hesitancy when that leads to the resurgence of diseases that for decades were under control? This article argues that vaccination policies should be justified in terms of a proper weighing of the rights of children to be protected against vaccine-preventable diseases and the rights of parents to raise their children in ways that they see fit. The argument starts from the concept of the ‘best interests of the child involved’. The concept is elaborated for this context into the dual regime structure in which parents have fiduciary authority over what they consider to be best for their child, and the state has fiduciary authority over a child’s basic interests. This argument leads to conditional mandatory vaccination programs that should be informed by a correct balancing of the two legal principles of proportionality and precaution. This results in contextual childhood vaccination policies of upscaling interference: a three-tiered approach of increased intrusion, from voluntary program when possible and mandatory or even compulsory programs when necessary to protect the child’s basic interests.