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Why It’s A Serious Violation Of Medical Ethics To Force Kids To Get COVID Shots

Scott Sturman By

Forcing children who are not at risk for serious illness to receive a vaccine of marginal benefit undermines confidence in legitimate vaccine programs.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate for schoolchildren age 12 and older — and other similar mandates popping up around the country — raises the question: For a patient population that predominately suffers only mild to no symptoms, is it ethical to coerce them to receive a vaccine that provides little benefit and causes rare but significant side effects?

Why COVID-19 and Polio Aren’t The Same

During the early 1950s, my parents waited and hoped that polio, an incurable, highly infectious disease that primarily afflicts children under five years of age, would not strike. The transmission of the disease was poorly understood and one in 200 patients suffered irreversible paralysis, with 5-10 percent of that group dying due to involvement of the respiratory muscles.

The availability of the Salk injectable polio vaccine in 1955 and the Sabin oral formulation in 1963 was hailed as a godsend. Vaccine development spanned years with 1.6 million children involved in clinical trials before full-scale implementation. The administration of these vaccines garnered widespread public support, with caseloads dropping precipitously. The disease has been eradicated in the United States since 1979.

The acclaimed polio vaccination program illustrates that health interventions are most successful when implemented with full public trust and directed against lethal or severely debilitating diseases for which the immunization provides longstanding protection. This example furnishes a stark contrast to compulsory COVID-19 vaccinations of children and adolescents, who rarely suffer adverse effects from that disease.

Yet, earlier this month, Newsom announced COVID-19 vaccine requirements for all students 12 and older who attend school in person, expected to go into effect next year after approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Full FDA approval for even younger students, Newsom has said, will expand the requirements further. Recently, Pfizer submitted an application to U.S. drug regulators to authorize the use of the vaccine in children in the kindergarten and grade school cohort.

Strict Ethical Rules of Consent

The 1931 German Guidelines on Human Experimentation, a predecessor to the Nuremberg Code that was woefully disregarded when the Nazis came to power in Germany only a few years later, demonstrate the need for caution in providing “innovative therapy.”


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