Vaccinating for Whom? Distinguishing between Self-Protective, Paternalistic, Altruistic and Indirect Vaccination

Public Health Ethics 13 (2):190-200 (2020)
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Preventive vaccination can protect not just vaccinated individuals, but also others, which is often a central point in discussions about vaccination. To date, there has been no systematic study of self- and other-directed motives behind vaccination. This article has two major goals: first, to examine and distinguish between self- and other-directed motives behind vaccination, especially with regard to vaccinating for the sake of third parties, and second, to explore some ways in which this approach can help to clarify and guide vaccination debates and policy. I propose conceiving of vaccination in terms of three basic elements: the vaccination decision-maker, the vaccine recipient and the primary beneficiary. I develop a taxonomy based on the relations between these elements to distinguish four kinds of vaccination: self-protective, paternalistic, altruistic and indirect. I finally discuss the case of human papillomavirus vaccine regulation for men and women to show how each kind of vaccination is associated with and raises specific ethical questions.

Author's Profile

Steven R. Kraaijeveld
Radboud University


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