Articles

Vaccination Laws and Present Pandemic Situations in India

Vaccine save lives; fear endangers them 

Jeffrey Kluger

INTRODUCTION: 

Since time immemorial of the human civilisation, we the human beings had been facing lots of horrible situations which endangered our existence. If we look back then we will find that the history of the pandemic is an ancient one; the first recorded pandemic was 340 years ago before the birth of Jesus Christ. But the years of 2019-2020 have revealed that we are still far away from the era of modernisation and we need more time to develop significantly in the field of medicine about the impact about health science and education. In this topic, we are going to discuss the impact of this ongoing pandemic upon the vaccination laws and vice versa. Before that, we must examine the history of vaccination laws in India. Dr Haffkine developed the plague vaccine in 1897, which is considered to be the first vaccine developed in India. Throughout the world, there are 27 causative agents, against which vaccines are available and expanded, and more are to be set against the rest targeted agents, which are known. But from this event of the pandemic of COVID-19, we can assure that there are also several causative agents, which are unknown to us. So, the development of vaccines for those novel agents is a very tough task. Now, while discussing the situation of India, we must be firstly aware of the vaccine laws, because, without those rules and regulation and laws, it would herm the rights of the people. So, several organisations, research centres, laboratories etc., where such research regarding the development of a vaccine is taking place, must maintain and follow the vaccine laws, so that, rights of the public at large or an individual is also maintained.

Moreover, after the development of the vaccine and its approval, it must be applied to control any situation of epidemic and pandemic. But, what will happen if a person doesn’t give his or her consent? For these reasons, only vaccine laws are passed. Immunity of a single individual provides the security of the immunity of the community.

HISTORY OF THE CONCEPT OF VACCINATION AND VACCINATION LAWS IN INDIA: 

The concept and process of vaccination are more than 3000 years old, which was originated and flourished in the ancient Indian Peninsula (Northern and Eastern India) as a form of variolation and inoculation. The evidence of the existence of variolation is also elaborately described in the Sanskrit text called Sacteya, mainly developed to Dhanwantari, the physician. Then with the transmission of education, the technique of vaccination may have spread to China then Africa, Turkey and ultimately reached to England and America.

In the 18th century, Smallpox affected almost the whole of the world, but, it was reported much earlier in India in 1545 AD. Historians and Physicians suggest ‘smallpox’ as ‘Indian Plague’. Edward Jenner developed the first vaccine of Smallpox in 1796, which arrived in May 1802. Anna Dusthall a three years old child from Bombay, become the 1st person in India to receive Smallpox vaccine on June 14, 1802. The compulsory Vaccination Act was passed in India in 1892 for the 1st time. The aim or motto of the act was to ensure higher coverage with Smallpox and reduce the epidemic. Before 1850, the vaccines were imported from Great Britain. After the 19th century, the vaccine material supply was increased in India, and as a result, more focus was given upon the manufacture of vaccines in India itself. During this time there occurred Cholera epidemic in Bengal and other parts of India. Dr Haffkine was requested to come in India and conduct Cholera vaccine trial in India, which was conducted in 1893. So, here comes the first situation, where we must consider the vaccination laws that, “what shall be the law when a scientist from abroad is brought in India to make vaccine trials?” Then in 1896, a plague epidemic in India has started. Before 1892 The Vaccination Act in 1880, specifically to ban existing inoculation practices, while making it compulsory for children to be vaccinated. So, the history of vaccination law in India can be classified into two parts: –

Vaccination and Present Pandemic Situation: 

During this pandemic situation doctors and health experts of all over the world are encouraging the mass population to take precautions to prevent transmission through the method of physical distancing, hand sanitising, boosting of immunity and musk using. But for the third world countries like India, it is not at all possible to take all such measures because here the food is more desirable than sanitiser, the cloth is more preferable than musk and shelter are more urgent than physical distancing. India is a country where still in the 21st century there is suffering for a single drop of drinking water in the states like Maharashtra, Odisha; where water is very much needed to quench thirst rather than hand washing.

The vaccine is a preventive measure to save ourselves from the clutches of the virus. So, if the Government makes vaccination mandatory, then ultimately, it will be beneficial for the whole society. Because mass interest is more important than individual interest and individual interest is more important than personal sentiment. Here if anyone denies taking the vaccine, then what will happen? Would he pay the society for his mischievous work? There is a well-known maxim in the legal field that “SALUS POPULI EST SUPREMA LEX.”, Which means public welfare is the highest law. Every member of society surrenders his/her welfare before the interest of the community. According to Ezekiel Emanuel, “vaccines are the most cost-effective health care interventions…”. So from my point of view, compulsory vaccination is very much needed so that we can live without any fear, we can breathe in a world where there would be no barrier to musk.

Vaccination Laws In The Light Of Nuremberg Code Whether Violative Of Human Rights Or Not:  

Recently Facebook, Instagram posts shared thousand times, claim that vaccines directly violate the Nuremberg Code ( a set of research ethics principles for human experimentation established after second world war). The claim is false. “The Nuremberg Code is about doing human experiments, not vaccination,” said Dr Jonathan D. Moreno (Prof. of Bio-ethics at University of Pennsylvania.” Vaccines are in no way a violation of the Nuremberg Code.

Recent Light Of Hope: 

Despite all brawl between the groups who are in favour of mandatory vaccination and who are against it, there is a great light of hope that Russia launches COVID vaccine named Sputnik-V and Russian health department assured the world that the persons upon whom the vaccine was tested are responding, including the daughter of Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Doctors of the whole world are not sure that what will be the accurate dose of the vaccine, or is there any necessity for any further booster dose or not? But when we get the vaccine then also it will take a long time to come within reach of every citizen of the country. First of all, it will be given to the doctors, health workers, polices who are the lifeline of the society, then it will be given to an endangered person like old persons, children, pregnant women. Restest of the population will get it. We can say in a racy voice that if we intake the vaccine in our body, then we will become a protected warrior to fight against the virus, and still, we cherish the hope that ‘we shall overcome.’

Conclusion:  

So, in the end, it’s very compulsory to say that vaccination is much more important than everything in today’s pandemic situation. Rate of unemployment and beggary is rising in India. At about 12 people among 100 die due to poverty in India each year. Therefore can’t we are a little more dedicated and sympathetic towards them? Can’t we think to free vaccination through the third world country, where, poverty death is not much less than pandemic death?

For this reason, there is a high demand for free vaccination laws for poor people or economically weaker sections of society. Moreover, during this pandemic (COVID-19), many beggars earn less than 5% of their daily income through beggary. Many hawkers have lost their sale due to cancellation of local trains to avoid social gathering. Many businessmen, employers in private sectors have made a significant loss, and some of them faced retrenchment too. What will happen to them if vaccines are not available to free of cost? Being a student in the law field, my last step, which can be taken is, to pray for a free vaccination law, for economically weaker sections of the society or for those people, who have lost their livelihood during this pandemic. 

Author’s: Sayan Pramanik & Sinjini Sanyal
S. K. Acharya Institute of Law

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