Several cases of COVID-19 vaccines being made mandatory in the Pacific raises questions over legality and morality
There have been reports in various Pacific countries of workers being forced to get the COVID-19 vaccination if they want to keep their jobs.
It has triggered debate around people’s individual rights and workplace health and safety.
Fiji-based constitutional lawyer Jon Apted says that Fiji’s constitution protects people from mandatory vaccinations.
“By law, the government can’t make it compulsory for you to take it however if whether an employer can make it mandatory is a different issue,” he says.
Pacific Public Health Expert and Associate Dean Pacific at the University of Auckland Dr Colin Tukuitonga says he doesn’t believe the vaccine, or any health intervention should be made mandatory.
But he said there is a clear need for more information and education on the vaccine and its benefits.
“We do need to make sure we provide as much information as we can in order for those catastrophic scenarios not occurring in small islands,” he said.
Dr Tukuitonga pointed out that many countries in the Pacific have a good track record on high rates of immunisation and he hopes there will be similar take up of the various COVID-19 vaccines.