At least they are discussing it (sortof) rather than just doing it. There is no doubt however that they would gladly follow through with such infringements. For your own good of course.
1.5 Legal and ethical issues
1.5.1 Legal issues
During a pandemic, it may be necessary to overrule existing legislation or (individual) human rights. Examples are the enforcement of quarantine (overruling individual freedom of movement), use of privately owned buildings for hospitals, off-license use of drugs, compulsory vaccination or implementation of emergency shifts in essential services. These decisions need a legal framework to ensure transparent assessment and justification of the measures that are being considered, and to ensure coherence with international legislation (International Health Regulations).
Questions to be addressed
Is there a legislative framework in place for the national response plan? Does this framework include contingencies for health-care delivery and maintenance of essential services, and for public health measures to be implemented?
Legal issues that are highlighted in other parts of the checklist are brought together as a separate checklist here. Other issues are added.
- Identify the advantages and disadvantages of declaring a state of emergency during a pandemic.
- Each jurisdiction needs to assess the legal basis of all public health measures that are likely to be proposed, including:
- travel or movement restrictions (leaving and entering areas where infection is established);
- closure of educational institutions;
- prohibition of mass gatherings;
- isolation or quarantine of infected persons, or of persons suspected of being infected, or persons from areas where pandemic strain influenza infection is established.
- Assess standing policy on, and legal basis for, influenza vaccination of health-care workers, workers in essential services (see sections 5.1 and 5.2) or persons at high risk. Decide if this policy needs refinement to increase uptake during pandemic alert and pandemic periods. Consider the use of both seasonal and pandemic vaccine for these groups.
- Address liability, insurance and temporary licensing issues for retired health-care workers and volunteers who may be working in areas outside their training and competence in health and emergency services.
- Consider liability for unforeseen adverse events attributed to vaccine and/or antiviral drug use, especially where the licensing process for a pandemic strain vaccine has been expedited. Liability issues may affect vaccine manufacturers, the licensing authority and those who administer the vaccine.
- Ensure a legislative framework for compliance with the International Health Regulations.
- Consider including influenza or pandemic influenza in national legislation for the prevention of occupational diseases.
1.5.2 Ethical issues
Ethical issues are closely related to legal issues as mentioned above. They are part of the normative framework that is needed to assess the cultural acceptability of measures such as quarantine or selective vaccination of predefined risk groups.
Questions to be addressed
Have ethical aspects of policy decisions been considered? Is there a leading ethical framework that can be used during the response to an outbreak to balance individual and population rights?
- Consider ethical questions related to limiting the availability of a scarce resource, such as rationed diagnostic laboratory testing, pandemic strain influenza vaccine or antiviral drugs.
- Consider ethical questions related to compulsory vaccination for healthcare workers and workers from essential services.
- Consider the ethical issues related to limiting personal freedom, such as may occur with isolation and quarantine.
- Ensure the establishment of an ethical framework for research, especially when this involves human subjects.