It is not just other people in general who are placed at risk by a person’s refusal to be vaccinated; it can be particular people — for example, the person’s fellow workers. An employee who needs a job to support her family must choose between the risk of contracting COVID-19 incurred by going to work with unvaccinated people and losing her job. I propose that she has a stronger ethical claim to a requirement for the mandatory vaccination of her fellow employees, than does the “anti-vaxxer” who loses their job in the same workplace because they refuse vaccination. They have a far less risky unwanted choice — namely, that of vaccination — than does the woman who makes the unwanted choice to work in a workplace of unvaccinated fellow workers.
What weight should be given to the arguments of “anti-vaxxers” who oppose mandatory vaccination? If the sole purpose of the vaccination were to protect the vaccinated person, that person would have the right to decide for themselves about vaccination and it should not be mandatory. But the consequences of COVID-19 can go far beyond the direct health effect of the virus on the person infected.