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Author Archive: Blog Editor


Check out the recording of American Journal of Bioethics’ latest webinar on the ethical issues surrounding allocating COVID-19 vaccines. Journal editor David Magnus leads panelists Grace Lee, Kathy Kinlaw, Govind Persad, and Monica Peek in an informative and intriguing conversation. The original webinar was held on February 17th, 9a – 10:15a PT. But this webinar, along with our other webinars can be viewed on AJOB’s youtube channel, found here.…

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by Rachel Fabi, PhD, Vivian V. Altiery De Jesús, MBE, and Liz Stokes, JD, MA, RN

In this series we ask bioethicists to respond to a question that embodies current challenges for bioethics, medicine, or health care. In this blog, three bioethicists were asked to share their thoughts on “How can medical and nursing schools prepare students to respond to the social and racial inequities created and worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic?” Here are their responses:

Rachel Fabi, PhD

As an educator in a medical school who teaches a course on physicians and social responsibility, I have seen a dramatic rise in student interest in advocacy for structural changes, especially in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the racial reckoning that accompanied it.…

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by Susan L. Smith, PhD

On either side of our country’s northern border, outrage is brewing about the rich getting priority access to COVID-19 vaccinations. 

An extremely wealthy Vancouver couple is being met with scorn after chartering a plane to the Yukon, breaking quarantine regulations, and lying to take advantage of a vaccination clinic that was meant for an indigenous community already hit hard by the pandemic. The University of Rochester Medical Center in New York had to issue a formal apology for moving board members and donors to the front of the line, noting that many “are disappointed by this information, and rightly so.”

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by Jennifer McCurdy, PhD, BSN, MH, HEC-C

Pandemics are not new to human experience. Stories of the Black Death, the Spanish Flu, and waves of smallpox, cholera, and measles have a place in the collective social memory. But something happens viscerally when the experience is first-hand. A witnessing of overrun emergency rooms, dropping oxygen saturations, empty grocery store shelves, and make-shift morgues on semi-trucks stir a common dread. Health care workers and other essential personnel experience waves of exhaustion, anger, moral distress, and a fear of death concurrent with a deep sense of duty toward humanity. Social media contains frame after frame of portraits of the loved ones lost…aunts, mentors, fathers, neighbors, colleagues, social icons.…

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by Matthew Cote, MD, FACEP

As the first two major vaccinations for COVID-19 have started to be widely distributed in the United States, a disturbing trend is emerging: many healthcare workers who presumably are educated about the vaccine, are declining to receive it.  While not unanticipated, the degree to which it is occurring among healthcare providers is concerning.  The numbers are not trivial, with up to 40% of some healthcare workers declining the opportunity to get vaccinated as reported recently in the LA Times, Forbes, and AP News.  Frontline healthcare workers as a group have the most medical knowledge and firsthand experience in dealing with people who have become infected with COVID-19. …

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by Richard B. Gibson

Ensuring that healthcare resources are made available to those in the greatest need of them – be that individuals, groups, populations, or countries – is not only a matter of public health but also one of ethics. A failure to implement appropriate resources allocation, reflective of a situation’s specific demands, illustrates not only an ignorance of public health factors but also betrays ethical shortcomings. In short, those stakeholders facing the toughest healthcare challenges should be afforded the greatest number of resources.

Does this mean, if one applies this form of reasoning to the global Covid-19 vaccination strategy, it follows then that those countries facing the most virulent viral variations should be given priority access to the vaccine?…

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by Vincent LaBarca, DNP

Healthcare workers are dying. As of December 31st, 2020, more than 300,000 American healthcare workers (HCWs) have been infected with the coronavirus. Tragically, at least 1,100 have died.

The circumstances facing HCWs are dire: Covid positive nurses are being forced to work. Hospitals are still scrambling for protective gear. Hiccups in vaccine distribution have led to debates of priority between colleagues. All of these factors have contributed to a rise in mental and physical illness, burnout, and moral distress among HCWs.

Which leads me to wonder: Why? Why are HCWs putting themselves and their loved ones at such risk?…

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by Keisha Ray, PhD and Alyssa Burgart, MD, MA

Keisha

Although I have been an editor at bioethics.net for 2 years now, I have been a consistent author since 2014, when Craig Klugman, then editor, invited me to be a regular contributor. Craig offered guidance and it is partly because of his efforts I am able to continue as blog editor. I hope to be a good partner to my new co-editor, Dr. Alyssa Burgart, just like Craig was to me. Although Craig will no longer be an editor at the blog, he will be missed, but his work in shaping the blog lives on.…

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by David Oxman, MD, HEC-C

 Vaccines for COVID-19 are becoming available, with the first batches of a highly effective vaccine adminstered this past week. Given limited initial supplies, doses are prioritized to high-risk groups, including health care workers. The virus has ravaged US health care workers — killing as many as 1700 and causing serious illness to tens of thousands more. Yet despite these numbers, a significant number of health care workers say they are not sure if they will take a COVID-19 vaccine. Recent survey of health care workers find a significant proportion who were uncertain about whether they would take a COIVD-19 vaccine if offered. …

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by Amie Devlin, MPH, MA

As a pregnant epidemiologist and bioethicist with an interest in clinical research, the development of the COVID-19 vaccines has been the equivalent of the Super Bowl to me. I can’t begin to count the number of times that I’ve explained to my husband over dinner the importance of sample size or debated the ethics of challenge trials. And if you had asked me two weeks ago about my feelings on offering the vaccine to pregnant people, I would have easily espoused the pros of our FDA review process, the differences between a theoretical risk and a proven risk, and the need to respect the autonomy of pregnant people. …

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