VACCINE MANDATES, DENIALISM AND FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE AND THOUGHT: EXAMPLES FROM BELGIUM AND BOTSWANA
Keywords:Vaccine mandates, vaccine denialism, Public buy-in, informed consent, individual autonomy, freedom of conscience, democracy, administrative action
Vaccine mandates and vaccine denialism appear to be in stark opposition, but closer analysis will reveal that those who propagate both such ideals are rigid. Public buy-in on matters of public health is an important precondition for healthy social environments inasmuch as informed consent is important to individual autonomy, freedom of conscience and democracy. Botswanan case law provides an example of how vaccine denialism can lead to fatal consequences in the face of religious extremism, while Belgian case law provides an example of how vaccine mandates and their accompanying modalities may be held to be unlawful and discriminatory. Both freedom of conscience and administrative action are subject to the rule of law and every norm that is imposed on the population must be accompanied by liability for those propagating such norms if harm is the result. As South Africa has grappled with whether or not it should make vaccination mandatory, lessons have been noted and recommendations made – in line with the Constitution as the supreme law in the land. (Section 2 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 affirms the supremacy of the Constitution.)
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