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Any prohibition or obligation on the part of the authority implies some limitation of the individual freedoms of those governed. This does not mean that they should be rejected out of principle, as they might be necessary under certain conditions. For example, the obligation to drive on the right or to technically check the vehicle when it exceeds a certain age could hardly be objected to, since the safety of third parties comes into play. It can also happen with health. It is precisely in this area where discussions have arisen regarding vaccination against Covid. The principle must be to respect individual freedoms as much as possible as long as the impact on the rest is limited.

With the signature of the official national legislators Juan Carlos Alderete (Buenos Aires) and Lia Caliva (Salta) was presented at the Chamber of Deputies a bill incorporating the National Vaccination Calendar the vaccines applied against Covid-19 and its variants. If this norm is sanctioned, the provisions of the law for the control of diseases preventable by vaccination, which regulates this calendar, and which in its article 2 establishes the prevalence of public health over private interest, would be applicable to these doses. Consequently, in its 7th article it provides: “The vaccines of the National Vaccination Calendar (… ) are mandatory for all the inhabitants of the country in accordance with the guidelines established by the enforcement authority.” This obligation translates into the requirement to present certificates in certain circumstances. For example, for the entry and exit of the school year, the processing or renewal of the DNI, passport and driver’s license or management of family allowances. Failure to comply with the obligation to be vaccinated would also be penalized with fines and would enable the jurisdictional health authority to take action to make the vaccination effective, which could even be compulsory.

The current law establishes that vaccines against Covid are not mandatory. The new project, yeah

The new project proposes vaccination against Covid for those over 18 years of age, and in the case of minors between 3 and 17 years of age, only those with comorbidities or risk diseases.

Legislators must decide on the compatibility of this project with the law on vaccines designed to generate acquired immunity against Covid-19, of November 2020, which empowered the National Executive Power to buy vaccines. To make them both technically and commercially viable, this standard exempted the laboratories responsible for their manufacture and supply from paying compensation for the possible adverse effects of their application. This exemption was imperative to obtain vaccines that had not yet been sufficiently tested. To the logic of this decision that some may question, the Argentine government would have to add the ideological factor, tinged with demagogic appeals in the selection of the laboratories to which he resorted in his vaccination campaign in another lousy handling of the health issue.

The 2020 law also established that vaccines against Covid were not mandatory, so it would conflict with what was postulated in the new project. In this sense,which position should prevail? The compulsory nature of vaccinations is not a new fact in Argentina nor in the world. He has been current on the smallpox vaccine, required for school enrollment and for travel. Also that of poliomyelitis and other vaccines for the first age, which force adults to comply with what is required. The justification for all these cases is based on the seriousness of the disease, its contagiousness and the proven efficacy of the vaccine.

Limitations due to lack of vaccination should be gradually eased and should be specific

There are also reasons in maternal diseases that, not immunized and acquired during pregnancy, can seriously affect the child that is born. The traditional obligation of these vaccines translates into requiring their certification, as established by the national calendar. The health or life of third parties is at stake and that is the justification for the obligation, even if the freedom of decision of the person who must be vaccinated is limited. However, there is a graduation in the way and the extent to which that freedom is restricted. There is an appreciable distance between demanding to have been vaccinated in order to carry out a procedure and, at the other extreme, that the authority proceeds compulsively to vaccinate that person.

How does Covid fit into these reflections? A first reality is that it was a global pandemic that in its first waves exposed contagiousness and high lethality. The coronavirus was not unknown, but there was no vaccine developed against it or for the Covid-19 strain, which was the first to spread with extraordinary speed. The isolation measures were ineffective and caused enormous damage to the economy of the countries and to the psyche of the people.

Vaccine research and its rapid production and inoculation were the only hope of combating the disease. The most important laboratories worked with very limited experimentation protocols. For this reason, as we have seen, they needed to disassociate themselves from the risks arising from the application of these products.

The use of a general application sanitary pass does not seem necessary or convenient, nor is the need to introduce Covid in the National Vaccination Calendar for now.

The scientific paths were diverse. Several of them relied on modern technologies and extremely short-term research studies in order to quickly deal with the pandemic. These circumstances gave rise to encourage positions that questioned the speed of approvals, alleging doubts about later secondary effects.

What many people call an anti-vaccine reaction, when it is not necessarily the best definition, reached proportions in Covid that had not occurred with any other inoculating disease. We do not justify them in the face of the expansion of the pandemic and we believe that the demands to have the vaccines, without moving towards compulsory application, were reasonable.

The appearance of new waves of contagion with other strains of the coronavirus has corroborated the advantage of vaccination by mitigating symptoms and effects, rather than its contagiousness. Onwards, medical science must give its definitive contribution. For their part, governments must always have in mind the maximum possible respect for individual freedom in balance with public health.

Limitations due to lack of vaccination may be gradually eased and should be specific. The use of a general application sanitary pass does not seem necessary or convenient. In this sense, there is no need to introduce Covid in the National Vaccination Calendar.

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