If you Google, “Can I say no to a COVID vaccine,” you’ll see articles about how your boss can fire you, an article on WebMD about how “we don’t want anybody to sow doubt in the efficacy of the vaccine,” and remarks by President Joe Biden telling everyone they have to get vaccinated.
Basically, you’ll see everything but the truth.
The truth is, not only is your bodily autonomy a human right, it is the foundation upon which all other human rights are built. It is included, implicitly or explicitly, in many international rights agreements, laws and ethical codes.
As an human, you have the right to decide what you put into your body, and this right is even more important when you’re talking about a vaccine that carries an inherent risk of bodily harm, including death.
There are some who may argue the health and welfare of the collective should overrule your individual autonomy, but we know that COVID vaccines neither prevent infection nor prevent transmission, so your neighbor derives zero benefits from you being vaccinated.
There will be others — who haven’t been informed of the former or made aware two doses of a vaccine will not outlast the shelf-life of a granola bar — who will say their right to be free from the potential risks of a simple respiratory virus like SARS-CoV-2 trumps your right to opt-out of a vaccine that could kill you.
This too is ignorance, as we know there are many things that can be used to treat COVID, especially when used early before the illness reaches the “inflammatory” phase. We have ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, corticosteroids, fluvoxamine, vitamin D, C and a whole host of other repurposed drugs and alternative treatments proven to work.
Even if the vaccine did work and lasted longer than the lifespan of your car’s oil, you still have the right to say “no.”
Governments all over the world in a variety of international agreements have made a commitment to protecting bodily autonomy.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ratified in 1948 after World War II, laid the foundation of international human rights law and was the “first universal statement on the basic principles of inalienable human rights.”
The principles of the Universal Declaration are echoed in the laws of more than 90
countries around the world and define autonomy as “the acknowledgment of a person’s right to hold views, to make choices and to take actions based on personal values and beliefs.”
The Nuremberg Code, considered the most important document in the history of medical research ethics, reinforces the right of the individual to freely exercise power of choice over whether to receive a COVID vaccine (or participate in a medical experiment). Free power of choice is a decision made without force, fraud, deceit, duress, overreach or coercion.
This means that if you do choose to get vaccinated, it should not be because you are placed in a position of duress where you’re forced to choose between your job or a shot, or a position of fraud or deceit where you’re lied to about the benefits and harms of the vaccine or disease it supposedly protects against. You should not be fined, cut off from venues or bribed with donuts, alcohol or gift cards.
Although the Nuremberg Code has not been officially adopted in its entirety as law by any nation or as ethics by major medical associations, it has significantly influenced global human-rights law and medical ethics.
Its basic requirement of informed consent, for example, has been universally accepted and articulated in international law in Article 7 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) which states: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation.”
The Nuremberg Code also serves as the basis of the International Ethical Guidelines for Biomedical Research Involving Human Subjects — the most recent guidelines promulgated by the World Health Organization and the Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences (1993).
The Declaration of Helsinki — a set of ethical principles regarding human experimentation developed in 1965 by the World Medical Association — acknowledged the Nuremberg Code’s authority.
It is true that your employer can implement its own COVID vaccine mandate as a condition for employment, but they cannot discriminate against your sincerely held religious beliefs or medical condition that prevents you from receiving a vaccine.
A school may attempt to mandate a COVID vaccine, but if it does, this is arguably unlawful as all of the COVID vaccines used in the U.S. are experimental and only approved under emergency use authorization.
The federal government does not have the legal authority on its own to mandated COVID vaccines, but it may try to use government agencies as a work-a-round, or the spending clause to withhold funding for institutions that don’t force vaccines on their employees.
At the end of the day, it may take time, energy and resources to assert our legal rights, but we must.