December 6, 2021

Bioethicist refuses to comply with vaccine mandate

Aaron Kheriaty

Not all doctors – or bioethicists — support vaccine mandates. Internationally, prevalence of Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy in healthcare workers ranges from 4.3 to 72%. The average is 23%. A study in Italy that found that 33% of health workers were unsure or did not intend to vaccinate.

The association for Australian general practitioners (RACGP) issued a position statement strongly backing mandatory vaccination last month. As an example of the scepticism with which some of its members regard the idea, read the comments beneath an article in the RACGP news magazine. One doctor summed up his colleagues’ concerns: “The RACGP all of a sudden flushed down the toilet the cornerstone of all ethical principles AUTONOMY.”

One bioethicist feels much the same. At the University of California Irvine, Aaron Kheriaty, a psychiatrist and medical ethicist, has been stood down after refusing to be vaccinated and suing UCI.

He is documenting his case in a Substack blog, Human Flourishing. UCI has banned him from working on campus or working from home.

Kheriaty is not opposed to vaccination. However, he and his family have had Covid and he claims that he has natural immunity. His case is that he is already immune and that vaccination involves a small risk. He writes: “How can I continue to call myself a medical ethicist if I fail to do what I am convinced is morally right under pressure?”