Should policymakers impose consequences on vaccine refusers?

04/05/2022 | 2 mins

A new paper from The University of Western Australia examines the moral and ethical arguments surrounding vaccine mandates such as the ‘No Jab, No Play’ policy introduced for children in Australia. 

Associate Professor Katie Attwell, from UWA’s School of Social Sciences, was lead author of  How policymakers employ ethical frames to design and introduce new policies: the case of childhood vaccine mandates in Australia published in Policy and Politics.

The study looked at ‘No Jab, No Play’ policies, which exclude unvaccinated children from enrolling in childcare and early education, and the ethical considerations policymakers made when designing these mandates in four Australian states.

“The Australian policymakers we interviewed didn’t think ‘No Jab, No Play’ policies would change the minds of committed vaccine refusers,” Associate Professor Attwell said. 

“They hoped these policies would motivate parents who were willing to vaccinate but hadn’t done it yet.

“But most ‘No Jab, No Play’ policies do exclude unvaccinated children from care and early education. Policymakers also created exemptions so they could enrol some disadvantaged unvaccinated children.”

The study found policymakers used a range of moral frames to discuss childhood vaccine mandates and exemptions for the socially disadvantaged.

“As we expected, they frequently drew on high moral certainty that vaccination was good, but also that early childhood education was important – especially to the vulnerable,” Associate Professor Attwell said.

“Many felt that policies needed to try and serve both these goals.” 

The research concluded that many of the interviewed policymakers appeared compelled to grapple with the question of supporting or opposing restrictive mandates. They also sought to set up exemptions to serve particular policy goals or moral ends. 

Media references

Annelies Gartner (UWA PR and Media Manager) 08 6488 6876

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