The Ethics Of Who Gets The COVID-19 Vaccine And When

Interesting discussions around different ethical frameworks in this interview. Some of the approaches are strictly utilitarian: “get as much good…” and some deontological. 

Basically what we are trying to do in thinking through the ethics of vaccine prioritization is to first identify the ethics values that matter the most, one of which is clearly that we want to get as much good in terms of the public’s health as we can from the vaccines available. But others include questions of fairness, equity and also reciprocity, recognizing that some groups have really taken on more risks and more burdens or have had more burdens imposed on them so that the rest of us could live more normal lives or have a better chance of staying healthy.

What’s also interesting are actions taken to address racial inequity in the impact of the pandemic. Should vaccine prioritization include race as a factor? Or simply other, race neutral risk factors that would account for this disproportionate impact (neighborhood, profession, etc.)? This article explores some of those ideas.

In California, experts are devising ways to ensure communities of color “disproportionately are benefited” from vaccine distribution, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) vowed, “because of the impact they have felt disproportionately” during the pandemic.

All of this is similar to earlier posts from March about how to ethically allocate scarce resources like ventilators.

Who Should be Saved First?


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