Does Ukraine need compulsory vaccination against COVID-19?

Author : Natalia Lebed

Source : 112 Ukraine

Recently, even the World Health Organization opposed compulsory vaccination. However, it was stressed that governments must work to increase the level of confidence in it
13:02, 14 December 2020


The coronavirus continues to march across the planet, and the world is preparing for vaccinations against Covid-19. In Ukraine, the possibility of vaccination is also being discussed, even at the legislative level. The parliament has registered bill No. 4142, in which MPs propose to make vaccinations against 10 diseases mandatory: diphtheria, whooping cough, measles, poliomyelitis, tetanus, tuberculosis, viral hepatitis B, mumps, rubella, pneumococcal and hemophilic infections.

This bill does not mention the coronavirus at all. However, it is quite obvious that when vaccination against it becomes possible, the MPs will simply continue this list with one more nomination. Of course, on condition that the document passes the crucible of the Verkhovna Rada. Now the consideration of this bill has been postponed indefinitely.

Meanwhile, the issue of vaccination in Ukraine is causing insane discussions. Without a doubt, they will become even hotter if the MPs still vote for the mandatory vaccination norm. Recently, even the World Health Organization opposed compulsory vaccination. However, it was stressed that governments must work to increase the level of confidence in it. WHO Director of Emergencies for Health Michael Ryan noted that people have to make their own decisions about whether they need to get vaccinated. By the way, the current legislation also speaks about it.

Therefore, dealt with the "pros" and "cons" of vaccination as such and as compulsory in particular.

So, the first argument "in favor" is that the population immunity consists of the individual immunity of a person who has been vaccinated. Simply put: the more people are vaccinated, the fewer cases of severe illness or death in society will happen.

Let's look at this using smallpox as an example. This is one of the oldest and most common diseases on the planet, from which 1.5 million people die every year. This continued until the end of the 18th century, when the English physician Edward Jenner invented the vaccine. However, it took almost two more centuries for smallpox to be overcome by vaccination.

There is no historical record of whether smallpox vaccination was voluntary or mandatory. In the Soviet Union, babies were vaccinated against smallpox while still in the hospital, without asking their parents' opinion. As a result, in 1980, the WHO announced that there was no more smallpox on Earth. The virus, according to doctors, has been completely eradicated. This was the consequence of the total vaccination.

Subsequently, WHO made the refusal of vaccination one of the greatest threats to humanity. Immunization, according to the organization, prevents 2-3 million deaths worldwide every year, and another 1.5 million people can be saved if vaccination coverage increases.

Another example is related to measles. In 2018, only 31% of children in Samoa (a state in Polynesia) received measles vaccine. And already in 2019, a powerful outbreak of this disease swept across the country. Similar examples can be cited when talking about the refusal of vaccination and about other diseases. Another effect of total vaccination lies in the economic plane. In particular, this issue is relevant now, when many countries around the world are introducing lockdown due to the coronavirus epidemic. There will be no epidemic - there will be no quarantine, and there will be no quarantine - there will be no losses for the business and the budget as a whole. The Kyiv School of Economics says that at the end of 2020, "generous" in lockdowns, Ukraine will miss 5.4% of its GDP, and the "weighted average fall" of world economies is estimated at 7.8% of GDP. And this is in addition to rising unemployment and a worsening social climate: an increase in the level of domestic violence, for example, associated with sitting in isolation.

Scientists are convinced that the coronavirus can be dealt with through vaccination. That is why now the issue of creating an effective vaccine and its delivery are perhaps the most important on the agenda.

The main counter-argument against vaccination remains the certain risk that this procedure carries. Vaccination can be a trigger for the development of concomitant diseases.

In 2008, 17-year-old Anton T. from Kramatorsk died after being vaccinated against measles-mumps-rubella (MMR). Another hundred high school students in the Donetsk region were hospitalized, after which the campaign was suspended, and they tried to investigate the case, but it never came to court.

Multiply this tragedy by the likely compulsory vaccination against the coronavirus and we get a public explosion, which is also, in fact, an argument against vaccination.

One more "argument against". There is a thesis about vaccine overload: they say, several vaccines applied at the same time can weaken the immature immune system of a child and lead to adverse consequences. By the way, this is also stated in the conclusions of the scientific and expert department of the Verkhovna Rada, which analyzed the bill No. 4142.

The experts noted the following: "In a significant part of the countries of the European Community, compulsory vaccination has been introduced only against one or several infections. A significant difference between the legislative regulation of vaccination in Ukraine and European countries is that in most of these countries, vaccination is not compulsory, and national vaccination schedules are of a recommendation nature."

Related: Coronavirus in Ukraine dashboard: online

In other words, person doesn’t need to do many vaccinations at once and you don’t need to make it a responsibility of parents.

In addition - and this is another counterargument - not every child can be vaccinated against everything. "Since, due to the peculiarities of the state of health, in particular the weakening of the immune system, certain vaccinations can be dangerous to the health or life," the scientific and expert department notes.

Moreover, if the vaccine against measles or diphtheria is already a familiar drug for many, "anti-coronavirus" inventions can cause additional psychological rejection, and even more so if their use becomes compulsory.

Argument number four. A poor-quality or falsified vaccine can get into Ukraine - as it was already in the Donetsk region in 2008. Former deputy head of the State Inspectorate for Drug Quality Control Konstantin Kosyachenko warns of such a possibility just now. A vaccine, however, is more difficult to counterfeit than any other drug, because it has certain storage requirements, but a counterfeit cannot be completely ruled out.

Fifth "against": in Ukraine there is no mechanism of compensation for victims of vaccination. The very existence of such a mechanism is a guarantee that the vaccination campaign will go smoothly - even if it never has to be used.

A system of compensation for vaccinated persons who have suffered harm to their health is provided in a number of countries. For example, in Israel in 1989, a separate "Vaccine Injured People Law" was passed. According to it, the state of Israel insures all people who have been vaccinated, and people who have come into contact with them, against harm that may be caused to them as a result of vaccination.

Sixth argument. It lies more in the realm of biology than ineffective public administration. Opponents of the coronavirus vaccine ask a logical question: why get vaccinated if the virus mutates anyway? The flu virus also mutates, making vaccines less effective against it.

This is indeed the case, and a recent study from University College London identified 198 repetitive mutations in the coronavirus. One of the study's authors, Professor François Balloux, said: "Mutations in themselves are not a bad thing, and there is nothing to suggest that SARS-CoV-2 mutates faster or slower than expected."

"So far, we cannot say whether SARS-CoV-2 is becoming more or less fatal and infectious," the scientist added. But how does this correlate with the invention of the vaccine? Dr. Balloux 's colleague Lucy van Dorpe, one of the co-authors of the cited study, explains it this way: “Many vaccines that are now being developed target the characteristic spikes of this virus. The idea is that the body's ability to recognize this unique "spike" will help it fight the entire virus. But if this spike changes, the vaccine thus developed may become less effective. "

Finally, there is a seventh argument already related to the field of law. No one can be subjected to forced medical manipulation, Ukrainian laws say.

So, in particular, for persons under the age of fifteen, and those who are recognized as legally incompetent in the manner prescribed by law, preventive vaccinations are carried out only with the consent of their objectively informed parents or other legal representatives.

If the person and (or) his legal representatives refuse compulsory prophylactic vaccinations, the doctor has the right to take from them the corresponding written confirmation, and in case of refusal - to certify this by an act in the presence of witnesses. This is part 6 of Art. 12 of the Law "On Protection of the Population from Infectious Diseases". In addition, in accordance with Part 4 of Art. 284 of the Civil Code, an adult capable natural person who understands the significance of his actions and can control them, have the right to refuse treatment.

And, finally, Articles 42 and 43 of the Law "Fundamentals of Ukrainian Legislation on Health Care" state that medical intervention is allowed only if it cannot harm the patient's health.

And since no one gives a 100% guarantee of vaccination safety, the compulsory vaccination is against both the campaign itself and against the authors of bill No. 4142 mentioned at the beginning. Its findings also contain a reminder that the general level of mistrust in domestic medicine is higher than in European countries, and reaches 63%. "Therefore, increasing the level of vaccination of the population requires comprehensive measures to increase confidence in the health care system of Ukraine," the experts are convinced.

Thus, the arguments against vaccination (even more so - mandatory vaccination) are quite weighty. However, as are the arguments in favor. Obviously, there will soon be changes in the legislation and in the supply of vaccines against coronavirus, and then the vaccine-related discussions will enter a new circle.

Related: Coronavirus in Ukraine: 6,451 new cases over 24 hours


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