The Novel Coronavirus, which started to spread meteorically in the March of 2020 has transmitted shock waves around the world, traumatising everyone and everything in its way. Coronaviruses are a group of related RNA viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds.
In humans and birds, they cause respiratory tract infections that can range from mild to lethal. Mild illnesses in humans include some cases of the common cold, sore throat and mild fever, while more lethal varieties can cause SARS, MERS, and COVID-19.[i]
As the world approaches the anniversary of the pandemic, the virus has already infected over 100 million people worldwide and over 10 million people here in India and continues to surge worldwide in the form of second and third waves of infection, causing new lockdowns and restrictions, thanks to various new strains.
As India, tries to recover from the first wave of the pandemic, the variants from U.K., South Africa, etc. have already amassed a second wave of the virus. The states of Maharashtra & Kerala being the leaders in the resurgence of the virus infection rate.
Although the ingenious and relentless efforts of the Scientific Community in manufacturing the vaccine has renewed the hopes of people around the globe, it sadly also brings with it a wildfire of rumours on the internet and social media sites regarding the vaccine’s safety, efficacy, & side-effects rendering many people on the fence about taking one although, the practice of immunisation dates back hundreds of years.
In the 17th century, Buddhist monks drank snake venom to confer immunity to snakebite and variolation (smearing of a skin tear with cowpox to confer immunity to smallpox). Edward Jenner is considered the founder of vaccinology in the West in 1796, after he inoculated a 13 year-old-boy with vaccinia virus (cowpox), and demonstrated immunity to smallpox. In 1798, the first smallpox vaccine was developed. Over the 18th and 19th centuries, systematic implementation of mass smallpox immunisation culminated in its global eradication in 1979.
Similarly, Louis Pasteur’s experiments spearheaded the development of the live attenuated cholera vaccine and inactivated anthrax vaccine in humans (1897 and 1904, respectively). The plague vaccine was also invented in the late 19th Century. Between 1890 and 1950, bacterial vaccine development proliferated, including the Bacillus-Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccination, which is still in use today.[ii] Thus, the use of the earliest vaccine goes back to the 17th Century.
Yet, the situation the world finds itself in is indeed unprecedented, there are barely any jurisprudential guidelines nor precedents the government and the judiciary respectively could use to venture through these uncharted territories. This paper tries to, observe and study the Rights of the people & those of the government regarding the vaccination policy.
- What happens if and when a person rejects and also, does he have the right to reject the jab of the life–saving vaccine?
- Can the Government force its citizens and aliens to take the vaccine and what are its constitutional repercussions?
[ii] A Brief History of Vaccination, The Immunisation Advisory Centre, available at https://www.immune.org.nz/vaccines/vaccine-development/brief-history-vaccination#:~:text=Edward%20Jenner%20is%20considered%20the,first%20smallpox%20vaccine%20was%20developed.