Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Mandatory covid vaccination for healthcare workers

Mandatory vaccination for healthcare workers: consequences of denying bodily autonomy

BMJ 2021; 375 doi: (Published 09 December 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;375:n3041
  1. Matteo Pizzo, consultant psychiatrist, specialist in medical psychotherapy
  1. London, UK
  1. matteo.pizzo{at}

Sokol’s arguments for mandatory covid-19 vaccination of healthcare workers1 do not take into account a number of relevant matters.

For example, in praising the increased vaccine uptake among healthcare staff in France, who otherwise faced losing their job, Sokol fails to consider the consequences of undermining their bodily autonomy on their respect for patients’ bodily autonomy.

Sokol tells us there is no time to wait and see. There is, however, little real life evidence across the world that in November 2021, or indeed projecting into April 2022, fight or flight is a wise approach to take in response to the virus given that SARS-CoV-2 is now in wide circulation among both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

Sokol does not ask himself what the loss of healthcare staff who have not accepted the vaccination might mean for healthcare delivery and for the systems they are a part of. This cohort of clinicians is more likely to question the status quo, not just in relation to the purported benefits of the vaccination, but also in other areas of practice. Dissenting and questioning voices are essential to the healthy functioning of any organisation. These members of staff often act as advocates for patient care by making proposals for change or raising alarms that may prove to be of benefit to all. To remove these clinicians from our organisations could lead to a disastrous impoverishment.

It is my impression that Sokol takes a reductionist approach, as so many have over the past 18 months. Covid-19 and data in relation to it have dominated almost all aspects of healthcare.

A single minded approach to medicine (and to ethics) can quickly turn it into a coercive and cruel practice. It attacks professional and personal relationships which are much needed to help us accept the complex reality and interplay between health, illness, and society.


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