Publication Details

Goldwater, P. N., Braunack-Mayer, A. J., Power, R. G., Henning, P. H., Gold, M. S., Donald, T. G., Jureidini, J. N. & Finlay, C. F. (2003). Childhood tetanus in Australia: ethical issues for a should-be-forgotten preventable disease. Medical Journal of Australia, 178 (4), 175-177.


  • Refusal of a parent to have a child vaccinated against tetanus raised ethical issues for the treating clinicians.

  • The clinicians felt their duty to the child was compromised, but recognised that our society leaves the authority for such decisions with the parents.

  • As there was no reason, other than different beliefs about vaccination, to doubt the parent's care for the child, the clinicians limited their response to providing strong recommendations in favour of vaccination.

  • Other issues raised by this case include community protection, and the costs to the community of treating a vaccine-preventable disease.