students to discuss how a public health effort, such as controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, can be controversial due to challenges to individual liberties, economic impact, and moral/religious beliefs. the challenges of containing the COVID-19 pandemic, including vaccine hesitancy, the impact on public health infrastructure, and conflicts between individual rights and public health measures.

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students to discuss how a public health effort, such as controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, can be controversial due to challenges to individual liberties, economic impact, and moral/religious beliefs. the challenges of containing the COVID-19 pandemic, including vaccine hesitancy, the impact on public health infrastructure, and conflicts between individual rights and public health measures.

After completing the reading named “Why is Public Health Controversial?” (found in Module 2 under the Learning Activities Modules) you will need to answer the question in this discussion and respond to two of your fellow classmates. Review the different parts of this discussion before continuing on.
1. There are three main reasons for controversy in public health:
Infringing on citizen’s “individual liberties”
Because it causes an “economic impact”
Because it goes against our “moral and religious beliefs”
2. Choose one of the above examples (individual liberty, economic impact, or moral/religious beliefs
3. For your Discussion Board Post – Discuss how a public health effort (comprehensive sex education, controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, wearing seatbelts, smoking bans, etc, etc, etc) is controversial. Are people’s moral and religious beliefs challenged with comprehensive sex education for example? Are we infringing on individual liberties when making people wear masks, etc, etc. 4. Respond to 2 of your fellow students (I will label Peer #1 and Peer #2)
Peer #1: Controlling the COVID-19 pandemic was a major controversial topic in public health for “infringing on individual liberties of citizens.” The pandemic shut much of the country down for several months. Many people thought it was necessary, but there was also a large group of people who saw it as taking away from their rights. Many people saw the shutting of the country down and mandating masks as a way to control the rights of the population. Despite living in a country where many rights are protected for citizens, many people felt the mask mandate was taking away these rights, and the government was overstepping their boundaries. This created a challenging and tense situation with businesses and medical facilities requiring a mask mandate due to the government mandating them. The government making these mandates and vaccine recommendations became an extremely controversial topic, infringing on individual rights. The controversy behind this caused a great divide between the country. Many parents saw these mandates taking away from their child’s education and the shutdown of business’s bad for the economy. It challenged different cultures and religions to experience things they may not have been comfortable with or disagreed with based on their background. Even though the country slowly healed during this pandemic, many dark days were experienced due to the public health controversy between both sides, agreeing or disagreeing with how the situation was handled. It is difficult to say whether these decisions infringed on the people’s liberties based on how the country and citizens viewed this pandemic. Infringing on the individual’s liberties would come down to the person’s moral opinion. In the end, and based on the government’s laws, the pandemic was a situation in which the government thought the mandates would be for the “common good” of the public to take on this virus efficiently.
Peer #2: It is clear from the COVID-19 mask regulations that there has been much debate regarding the efficacy of public health measures in halting the virus’s transmission. The conflict between public health initiatives and people’s moral and religious values is one of the causes of this dispute. Some contend that they are excused from adhering to these mask rules due to their moral or religious convictions, which causes tensions within communities and amongst people with different opinions. Furthermore, there are worries that these rules violate people’s freedoms. These worries widen the gap between those attempting to survive this pandemic.
During this period, the issue surrounding vaccinations has also come to light. With so many vaccines on the market, some people doubt their effectiveness and safety. Some people may have anti-vaccine sentiments, while others may not trust the government or pharmaceutical firms. It is challenging for society to agree on vaccination as a vital instrument for containing the epidemic because of these divergent points of view.
Vaccine uptake remains below ideal in many countries globally, although immunization is the most cost-efficient public health intervention and the most effective disease-preventative approach. Several studies have examined the variables that affect people’s decision to become vaccinated, utilizing various approaches and giving varying degrees of proof. Access and vaccine availability is less of a problem in affluent nations, with psychological, social, and environmental variables being identified as the primary drivers of vaccination uptake. A more recent international poll that was carried out in 23 countries reveals that vaccination hesitation is universally linked to uncertainty regarding the efficiency of the COVID-19 vaccine and a lack of faith in the safety and science of the vaccine. Furthermore, vaccination acceptance or rejection depends on the environment; thus, it is crucial to consider the impact of historical, political, cultural, and economic aspects (Vida Jeremić Stojković et al., 2023).
However, we must also consider how the COVID-19 pandemic may affect the long-term management of infectious illnesses. Resources may be diverted, and public health initiatives may be disrupted, which might impede disease prevention, treatment, and surveillance and possibly result in a future recurrence of certain communicable illnesses. Even in times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot undervalue the need to keep a robust public health infrastructure in place to handle both existing and emergent infectious illnesses successfully. Older communicable diseases like TB resurface, often in drug-resistant versions (i.e., produced by superbugs), indicating that communicable diseases remain a significant public health concern in the United States even while new ones are emerging (Mckenzie et al., 2022).
Finally, there are concerns about whether compelling individuals to wear masks infringes on their right to privacy by the government, businesses, and other parties. Many countries place a high value on individual liberty, and people frequently have strong opinions about their ability to choose what they do and dress. Therefore, when individuals are forced to wear masks in specific situations, their feeling of autonomy is questioned, fostering an atmosphere conducive to conflict and dispute.
In summary, the COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected society in many ways, including the escalation of discussions around vaccination schedules and mask requirements, which pit individual liberty against group accountability. We need to think about the best way to balance protecting the public’s health with upholding people’s rights and beliefs as we continue to address this catastrophe.
References:
Mckenzie, J. F., Pinger, R. R., & Seabert, D. M. (2022). An introduction to community & public health (10th ed.). Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Vida Jeremić Stojković, Smiljana Cvjetković, Janko Janković, Mandić‐Rajčević, S., Sanja Matović Miljanovic, Aleksandar Stevanović, Aleksandra Vraneš, & Željka Stamenković. (2023). Attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccination and intention to get vaccinated in western balkans: Cross-sectional survey. European Journal of Public Health, 33(3), 496–501. https://doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/ckad066

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