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Voluntary Vaccination: The Pandemic Effect

Cave, Emma

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Justification of a voluntary vaccination policy in England and Wales rests on tenuous foundations. Two arguments against voluntary vaccination are gaining ground. The first is that globalisation necessitates preparedness strategies for pandemics. Assuming sufficient supply, compulsory vaccination of adults and children constitutes a potential policy option in the context of a severe, vaccine-preventable pandemic outbreak. The second argument is that children have a right to preventative medicine and thus to vaccination. The influence of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and its emphasis on parents as the trustees of their children’s best interests, and the increasingly global nature of our collective and individual responsibilities with respect to the transmission of vaccine-preventable disease present challenges to the right to refuse vaccination on our own behalf and on behalf of our children. Exploring methods of compulsion and persuasion utilised across Europe, the United States and Australia, this article argues that necessity and proportionality must be reassessed and national public health law and policy setting out a graduated and proportionate approach to compulsory vaccination developed as a matter of priority.


Cave, E. (2017). Voluntary Vaccination: The Pandemic Effect. Legal Studies, 37(2), 279-304.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 14, 2016
Online Publication Date Dec 1, 2016
Publication Date Jun 1, 2017
Deposit Date Jun 14, 2016
Publicly Available Date Dec 1, 2018
Journal Legal Studies
Print ISSN 0261-3875
Electronic ISSN 1748-121X
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 37
Issue 2
Pages 279-304
Keywords vaccination, public health, consent, compulsion


Accepted Journal Article (488 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This is the accepted version of the following article: Cave, Emma (2017). Voluntary Vaccination: The Pandemic Effect. Legal Studies, 37(2): 279-304, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.

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