Ethics committee of Quebec's public health institute approves mandatory vaccination for health-care workers

In an opinion made public Tuesday, the ethics committee of the Quebec Institute of Public Health (INSPQ) has changed its mind and now considers mandatory vaccination of health-care workers acceptable, based on the precautionary principle, but as long as the exceptional measure remains temporary.

In a previous opinion on the issue, published in January, the same committee said that mandatory vaccination of health-care workers should be avoided out of respect for their autonomy and freedom of choice.

Eight months later, the institute's ethics committee believes that the situation of the pandemic has changed and that its view on the issue must, therefore, be different.

The comité d'éthique de la santé publique (CESP) now agrees with the government's position, which decreed on Aug. 17 that all caregivers in the public or private sector, and in contact with patients for more than 15 minutes, must be doubly vaccinated by Oct. 15 in order to maintain their functions.

The committee insists that this measure must remain exceptional and that the government must ensure that "the balance of benefits over harms has been rigorously assessed."

It added that in its view, exceptional measures such as mandatory vaccination and the vaccine passport "may be justifiable because of their temporary nature, which is why it is important for the authorities to share their vision of what a normal life would be like if COVID-19 remained present and the health emergency ended."

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Sept. 7, 2021. 

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