Spoonful of honey or a gallon of vinegar? A conditional COVID-19 vaccination policy for front-line healthcare workers.
AuthorBradfield, OM; Giubilini, A
Source TitleJournal of Medical Ethics
University of Melbourne Author/sBradfield, Owen
AffiliationMedicine Dentistry & Health Sciences
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsBradfield, O. M. & Giubilini, A. (2021). Spoonful of honey or a gallon of vinegar? A conditional COVID-19 vaccination policy for front-line healthcare workers.. J Med Ethics, 47 (7), pp.467-472. https://doi.org/10.1136/medethics-2020-107175.
Access StatusOpen Access
Open Access at PMChttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8257552
Seven COVID-19 vaccines are now being distributed and administered around the world (figure correct at the time of submission), with more on the horizon. It is widely accepted that healthcare workers should have high priority. However, questions have been raised about what we ought to do if members of priority groups refuse vaccination. Using the case of influenza vaccination as a comparison, we know that coercive approaches to vaccination uptake effectively increase vaccination rates among healthcare workers and reduce patient morbidity if properly implemented. Using the principle of least restrictive alternative, we have developed an intervention ladder for COVID-19 vaccination policies among healthcare workers. We argue that healthcare workers refusing vaccination without a medical reason should be temporarily redeployed and, if their refusal persists after the redeployment period, eventually suspended, in order to reduce the risk to their colleagues and patients. This 'conditional' policy is a compromise between entirely voluntary or entirely mandatory policies for healthcare workers, and is consistent with healthcare workers' established professional, legal and ethical obligations to their patients and to society at large.
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