The interactions of ethical notions and moral values of immediate stakeholders of immunisation services in two Indian states: a qualitative study
Objectives This study examines the existing norms regarding immunisation within the communities and the ethical notions that govern the actions of different health professionals and their collective synergistic or conflicting effects on the governance of the programme.
Design We used descriptive and analytical qualitative methods as it suited the research question.
Setting The data were collected from areas under 16 primary health centres in Kerala and Tamil Nadu identified through a three-step sampling process.
This involved in-depth interviews with stakeholders including providers, beneficiaries and other stakeholders, focus group discussions with mothers of under-five children and participant and non-participant observations of vaccination-related activities.
Unlike most other ethical analyses that look at the ethics of vaccination policies, the interactions of normative principles and notions are analysed in this article. Moral obligation of parents towards their children, beneficence of healthcare providers and the utilitarian aspirations of the state are the key normative principles involved. Our analysis points to the interplay of both synergy and conflict in ethical notions and moral values in the context of immunisation services. Paternalistic interventions like special immunisation campaigns against polio and Japanese encephalitis are a case in point: they generate conflict at the normative level and create mistrust.
Analysis of vaccination policies and programmes needs to go beyond factors that assess monetary benefits or herd immunity. Understanding the interactions of normative notions that shape the social organisation of the providers and the users of vaccination is important in creating a sustainable environment for the programme.