The Latest: Is it ethical to get a vaccine before it’s your turn?

Dear Reader,

There’s evidence to suggest the vaccine rollout will pick up speed. States that were letting doses go unused are making changes, and the government is telling states to expand their eligibility pools to include people age 65 and older. The hope is that more people can get vaccinated faster, though there is some concern over whether states and vaccine manufacturers can keep up with the pace.

The Infectious Diseases Society of America released a statement yesterday saying that accelerated vaccine rollout is critical to pandemic control and called on the federal government to ensure states have the financial resources they need to complete the task. While the logistics of a vaccine campaign such as this are immensely complicated, the United States cannot let doses go to waste during a state of emergency.

“Vaccines in arms save lives,” the society says. “Vaccines in storage do not.”

Be well,

Alexandra Sifferlin
Editor, Medium Coronavirus Blog

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My colleague Dana G Smith interviewed bioethicist Arthur Caplan about what people should do if they are offered an available vaccine even though it might not be their group’s turn yet. There have been stories of people being at a pharmacy near closing time and being offered a dose that would otherwise be wasted, for example. If the situation should arise where a vaccine is available and a person is not deliberately cheating the system, then Caplan says there’s an imperative to accept and get vaccinated. “I don’t think just keeping things in refrigerators makes any sense,” he says. “Getting more people vaccinated in settings like health care helps — as long as you’re not jumping ahead of the people who are willing to take it, who are really in need.” Read more here.

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A blog from Medium for Covid-19 news, advice, and commentary.

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Alexandra Sifferlin

Health and science journalist. Former editor of Medium’s Covid-19 Blog and deputy editor at Elemental. TIME Magazine writer before that