Email to Vice Chancellor of Griffith University (QLD)
By Australian National Review
Dear Prof. Evans,
I am a philosopher of ethics with my current research-focus on vaccine mandates. I have recently published in the BMJ on this topic: https://jme.bmj.com/content/early/2021/02/25/medethics-2020-107026. It came to my attention that Griffith University will impose mandatory vaccination policy for staff and students in 2022, with the option to regularly undergo antigen testing instead of vaccination. The option to undergo testing, which is then also a mandated medical procedure, mitigates but does not negate the coercive effect of the vaccination mandate, where the following ethical issues arise:
- Vaccine mandates imply that all humans are born in a defective, inherently harmful state that must be biotechnologically augmented to allow their unrestricted participation in society, and this constitutes discrimination on the basis of healthy, innate characteristics of the human race.
- Covid vaccines are known to occasionally cause deaths of healthy people. When an employee is required to receive Covid vaccination as a condition of employment, that employee is being economically coerced to participate in an activity where some percentage of employees are expected to die ‘in the course of employment’ as a direct result of their mandatory participation. This goes against the fundamental principles of medical ethics and workplace safety. It may be objected that Covid-19 also kills people, but these two categories of deaths are not ethically equivalent. Infection with SARS-CoV-2 is not mandated, whereas deaths resulting from mandatory vaccination are mandated deaths, a legalised killing of some people for the alleged benefit of the majority.
- Medical consent must be free – not coerced – in order to be valid. Any discrimination against the unvaccinated is economic or social opportunity coercion, precluding the possibility of a valid medical consent. The right to free, uncoerced medical consent is not negotiable, because without it we have no rights at all; every other right can be subverted by medical coercion.
I also object to the assertion made by several state premiers and other politicians that the people who are discriminated against are “unvaccinated by choice”. Apart from the fact that social and economic opportunity coercion removes our free choice in this matter, being unvaccinated is fundamentally not a choice; we were born this way. The premise of being “unvaccinated by choice” is as absurd as “having two hands by choice”. The right to preserve our innate characteristics without being discriminated against is paramount.
Vice Chancellor’s response 13.12.2021:
Thank you for your feedback.
This is not an easy decision to make and we realise it is one where people have strong views. Throughout the pandemic, Griffith University has been guided by the principle of taking all reasonable measures to reduce the risk of members of our community becoming ill.
While vaccines do not completely eliminate the risk of contracting COVID-19, the scientific evidence is clear that people who are vaccinated are much less likely to both contract COVID themselves and pass it on to others. This policy therefore is one of a range of measures to keep Griffith as safe a place as possible to study and work.
Allowing a testing regime as an alternative to vaccination creates an option for staff and students who are not able or willing to be vaccinated. Under this policy, no-one will be required to be vaccinated but everyone will be required to take steps to help protect the health and safety of others.
I am sorry that you do not agree with the stance that we have taken.
Office of the Vice Chancellor and President