© 2019

The Ethics of Vaccination

  • Comprehensively discusses the individual, collective, and institutional responsibility for vaccination and herd immunity

  • Offers a philosophical analysis of the ethical issues that vaccination and vaccination policy raise in terms of moral responsibility

  • Clarifies what individuals, collectives, and citizens may and should do in order to achieve herd immunity from vaccine preventable infectious diseases

Open Access

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Ethics and Public Policy book series (PASEPP)

Table of contents

About this book


This open access book discusses individual, collective, and institutional responsibilities with regard to vaccination from the perspective of philosophy and public health ethics. It addresses the issue of what it means for a collective to be morally responsible for the realisation of herd immunity and what the implications of collective responsibility are for individual and institutional responsibilities.

The first chapter introduces some key concepts in the vaccination debate, such as ‘herd immunity’, ‘public goods’, and ‘vaccine refusal’; and explains why failure to vaccinate raises certain ethical issues. The second chapter analyses, from a philosophical perspective, the relationship between individual, collective, and institutional responsibilities with regard to the realisation of herd immunity. The third chapter is about the principle of least restrictive alternative in public health ethics and its implications for vaccination policies. Finally, the fourth chapter presents an ethical argument for unqualified compulsory vaccination, i.e. for compulsory vaccination that does not allow for any conscientious objection. 

The book would appeal both philosophers interested in public health ethics and the general public interested in the philosophical underpinning of different arguments about our moral obligations with regard to vaccination.


Open Access medical ethics public health ethics vaccination policies policy making moral responsibility

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Oxford Martin School and Wellcome Centre for Ethics and HumanitiesUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

About the authors

Alberto Giubilini, Ph.D., is a Research Fellow at Oxford Martin School and Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities, University of Oxford, UK. He holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Milan, Italy, and has held previous appointments at Monash University, University of Melbourne and Charles Sturt University, all in Australia, working on different topics in bioethics and philosophy more generally.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title The Ethics of Vaccination
  • Authors Alberto Giubilini
  • Series Title Palgrave Studies in Ethics and Public Policy
  • Series Abbreviated Title Palgrave Studies in Ethics and Public Policy
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2019
  • License CC BY
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Pivot, Cham
  • eBook Packages Religion and Philosophy Philosophy and Religion (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-030-02067-5
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-030-02068-2
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XV, 126
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Bioethics
    Philosophy of Medicine
    Moral Philosophy
  • Buy this book on publisher's site
Industry Sectors
Health & Hospitals


“The author explores the ethical considerations around individual, collective, and institutional responsibilities to provide for herd immunity. He evaluates a ranking of vaccination policies from the least restrictive to the most coercive … .A worthy addition to health policy and medical ethics collections.” (R. L. Jones, Choice, Vol. 56 (10), June, 2019)