‘Mandatory’ or ‘compulsory’ vaccination?

A chara, – Vittorio Bufacchi in his article "Mandatory vaccination not the same as compulsory"(Opinion & Analysis, January 12th) incorrectly dismisses the Nuremberg Code in his support of mandatory vaccination.

It is explicitly addressed within the first principle of the code that: “The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential. This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, overreaching or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion”.

The coercion and duress referred to above are easily recognisable in the final sentence of Dr Bufacchi’s article: “Somewhere in the middle there is the option of making pubs and stadiums out of bounds to anti-vaxxers – that’s probably what would hurt them the most.” – Yours, etc,




Co Mayo.

Sir, – Vittori Bufacchi acknowledges more than once that a person has a right to not be vaccinated. Yet at the end of his article, he states that certain consequences could follow those who exercise that human right, including consequences that “hurt” people.

So just to be clear, The Irish Times has published an article in which an author calls for certain citizens to be “hurt” for exercising their human rights. – Yours, etc,




Co Meath.

Sir, – I read Vittorio Bufacchi’s piece about the difference between the commonly accepted synonyms of “mandatory” and “compulsory”, regarding vaccinations, and beg to differ.

At the root of it, you have a situation where a person stands to lose rights they had prior to the infraction (of not getting vaccinated) than they would have had if they did as they were instructed through mandate, law, or otherwise, meaning there is a price to paid, and so the language used to do that is irrelevant.

If that philosophy is acceptable, the idea of “my body my choice” fails to mean anything.

An individual’s inherent right to make choices about their body is foundational in western democracy and cannot be altered even when it is frustrating to the majority.

Minority rights, the end of slavery, the repeal of the eighth amendment, and many other important advances in civilisation generally all hinge upon bodily autonomy.

One cannot claim that you still have that right but will be inconvenienced greatly if you exercise it.

These rights must exist in and of themselves, always, and irrespective of external factors.

If “risk to society” is taken to a logical extension as a justification, then we should arrest everybody who has 50 convictions and jail them in advance, given their known recidivist rate, yet we don’t. We demand fair trials and innocence until guilt is proven.

We don’t deny rights based on potentially socially destructive activity. It’s still legal to smoke and drink alcohol.

Even if people don’t get vaccinated for ideological or selfish reasons, it isn’t our place to seek to breach their bodily autonomy, and we don’t do this (nor should we) for matters of religious ideology.

Dr Bufacchi’s piece falls at the first fence because social freedom is not a reward if you are without fault; it’s a given, and not getting jabbed can’t be conflated with being “at fault”.

These are confounding times, and the last thing we should do is start to speak of the deterioration of hard-fought and hard-won individual rights simply because the world is in disarray. I say these things as a person who believes in the positive effects of vaccines, and I say this as a person who has been double-vaccinated. I also say this as a person who, despite doing everything right, still caught Covid.

We are one society – to remain as such we have to love and accept one another, warts and all. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 1.