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Warring Autonomies: Vaccine Mandates for Healthcare Workers and the Competing Rights of Patient and Healthcare Worker Autonomy in Pandemic Policy

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posted on 2023-09-04, 05:58 authored by Tyler PaetkauTyler Paetkau

 The Covid-19 pandemic brought to the fore tensions between the rights of healthcare workers (HCWs) and the patients they care for. Nowhere are these tensions more evident than in debates over the right to autonomy and whether these rights allow HCWs to refuse vaccination. In the following, I argue that while both parties have a right to autonomy, the patients right to autonomy generally overrides that of the HCW. Still, the patient’s rights do not necessarily entail that HCWs possess a duty to be vaccinated. Instead, it entails that HCWs take reasonable actions to respect the autonomy of the patients. 


Corresponding author email

Lead author country

  • Canada

Lead author job role

  • Postgraduate Student

Lead author institution

McGill University

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