Ethical decisions to be made when choosing who gets COVID-19 vaccine first

ATLANTA — With coronavirus vaccines on the way, health officials are not only discussing how it will be distributed but to whom.

That’s important because the vaccine supply will be limited early on.

Channel 2′s Tom Regan spoke to a doctor at Emory University who said there are a lot of moral decisions that must be made here.

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It’s obvious that the first people who should get the vaccine are doctors nurses and health care workers on the front-line treating people with COVID-19, but after that decisions on who gets the scarce vaccine become a little tougher.

Should it be police? Older people with health problems or immune disorders? People in nursing homes or those who care for them?


And then there’s a broader question down the road.

After the U.S. has purchased hundreds of millions of doses and everyone in our country who wants the vaccine gets it, what do we do with the rest?

“We are hoarding vaccine in the wealthy countries. The developing countries can’t get the vaccine. What are we going to do with the excess vaccine? Are we going to freeze it or offer it to people throughout the world?” said Emory Bioethicist Dr. Paul Root Wolpe.

These are ethical challenges that we haven’t confronted but we need to confront soon.

Wolpe said the other big challenge will be convincing enough people to take the vaccine to create herd immunity.

Many polls say about 50 percent of Americans say they may not choose to get the shots.

Have questions about the spread of coronavirus? We have an entire section dedicated to coverage of the outbreak. CLICK HERE for more.

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