Vaccine Mandates in the COVID-19 Era: Changing Paradigm or Public Health Opportunity?; Comment on “Convergence on Coercion: Functional and Political Pressures as Drivers of Global Childhood Vaccine Mandates”

Document Type : Commentary

Authors

1 Department of Public Health Experimental and Forensic Medicine, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy

2 Collegio Ca’ della Paglia, Fondazione Ghislieri, Pavia, Italy

Abstract

The debate around vaccine mandates has flourished over the last decade, with several countries introducing or extending mandatory childhood vaccinations. In a recent study, Attwell and Hannah explore how functional and political pressures added to public health threats in selected countries, motivating governments to increase the coerciveness of their childhood vaccine regimes. In this commentary, we reflect on whether such model applies to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) case and how the pandemic has re-shuffled the deck around vaccine mandates. We identify COVID-19 immunisation policies’ distinctive aspects as we make the case of countries implementing mass immunisation programmes while relying on digital COVID-19 certificates as an indirect form of mandate to increase vaccine uptake. We conclude by acknowledging that different forms of mandatory vaccination might serve as a shortcut to protect population health in times of emergency, underlining, however, that the ultimate public health goal is to promote voluntary, informed, and responsible adherence to preventive behaviours.

Keywords

Main Subjects


  1. Odone A, Dallagiacoma G, Frascella B, Signorelli C, Leask J. Current understandings of the impact of mandatory vaccination laws in Europe. Expert Rev Vaccines. 2021;20(5):559-575. doi:1080/14760584.2021.1912603
  2. Attwell K, Hannah A. Convergence on coercion: functional and political pressures as drivers of global childhood vaccine mandates. Int J Health Policy Manag. 2022. doi:34172/ijhpm.2022.6518
  3. Mello MM, Opel DJ, Benjamin RM, et al. Effectiveness of vaccination mandates in improving uptake of COVID-19 vaccines in the USA. Lancet. 2022;400(10351):535-538. doi:1016/s0140-6736(22)00875-3
  4. Attwell K, Navin MC, Lopalco PL, Jestin C, Reiter S, Omer SB. Recent vaccine mandates in the United States, Europe and Australia: a comparative study. Vaccine. 2018;36(48):7377-7384. doi:1016/j.vaccine.2018.10.019
  5. Giubilini A, Savulescu J, Pugh J, Wilkinson D. Vaccine mandates for healthcare workers beyond COVID-19. J Med Ethics. 2022. doi:1136/medethics-2022-108229
  6. Odone A, Delmonte D, Scognamiglio T, Signorelli C. COVID-19 deaths in Lombardy, Italy: data in context. Lancet Public Health. 2020;5(6):e310. doi:1016/s2468-2667(20)30099-2
  7. Burioni R, Odone A, Signorelli C. Lessons from Italy's policy shift on immunization. Nature. 2018;555(7694):30. doi:1038/d41586-018-02267-9
  8. Maltezou HC, Ledda C, Rapisarda V. Mandatory vaccinations for children in Italy: the need for a stable frame. Vaccine. 2019;37(32):4419-4420. doi:1016/j.vaccine.2019.05.095
  9. Vigezzi GP, Odone A. COVID-19 immunisation in older people. Lancet Healthy Longev. 2022;3(3):e126-e127. doi:1016/s2666-7568(22)00036-8
  10. Karafillakis E, Van Damme P, Hendrickx G, Larson HJ. COVID-19 in Europe: new challenges for addressing vaccine hesitancy. Lancet. 2022;399(10326):699-701. doi:1016/s0140-6736(22)00150-7
  11. Brewer NT, Chapman GB, Gibbons FX, Gerrard M, McCaul KD, Weinstein ND. Meta-analysis of the relationship between risk perception and health behavior: the example of vaccination. Health Psychol. 2007;26(2):136-145. doi:1037/0278-6133.26.2.136
  12. Odone A, Vigezzi GP, Baldanti F. Implications of COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness waning for public health. Lancet Infect Dis. 2022;22(7):918-919. doi:1016/s1473-3099(22)00233-x
  13. Sprengholz P, Betsch C, Böhm R. Reactance revisited: Consequences of mandatory and scarce vaccination in the case of COVID-19. Appl Psychol Health Well Being. 2021;13(4):986-995. doi:1111/aphw.12285
  14. Attwell K, Harper T, Rizzi M, et al. Inaction, under-reaction action and incapacity: communication breakdown in Italy's vaccination governance. Policy Sci. 2021;54(3):457-475. doi:1007/s11077-021-09427-1
  15. Boccalini S, Vannacci A, Crescioli G, et al. Knowledge of university students in health care settings on vaccines and vaccinations strategies: impact evaluation of a specific educational training course during the COVID-19 pandemic period in Italy. Vaccines (Basel). 2022;10(7):1085. doi:3390/vaccines10071085
  • Receive Date: 14 August 2022
  • Revise Date: 29 November 2022
  • Accept Date: 30 November 2022
  • First Publish Date: 03 December 2022