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by Keisha Ray, Ph.D.

With Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna/National Institutes of Health producing a viable vaccine for COVID-19 (along with two other companies on the precipice of also producing viable vaccines) and with distribution set to begin in just a few weeks for many health care providers, people have questions about when they will receive the vaccine. The New York Times has created a vaccine calculator in which you can input information about yourself such as your age and whether you have pre-existing conditions which make you vulnerable to COVID-19, and other information to then get an estimate of when you can expect to get the vaccine. On the CDC website the agency has answered a series of questions about the vaccine, including questions about the cost of the vaccine (no cost to the individual, although some providers can charge an administration fee that can be covered by public and private health insurance or government relief fund for people without insurance). Whereas…

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Alyson Isaksson Capp, PhD

The dreaded pink line

bleeding across the test strip

next to the navy 

“Like a pregnancy test—two lines means positive” said the woman in royal blue scrubs,    

unphased that we all had tested positive.

In awe that after almost two years

the thing I had most avoided

had happened,

I left my body.

As I looked down at myself

seeing Her, my body

defending HerSelf,

Her tiny T cells

recognizing the protein spikes, 

remembering them by heart,

dismantling them—

Later watching as She shouldered the headaches,

 parched throat,

fog, and fatigue,

as She brought baby to antibody rich bosom

while preparing nourishment and fluids for all,

ensuring everyone eats—

In all these undertakings I watched Her in awe

grateful for these blessings from the Goddess Divine.

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Arisa Marshall

Most students of color know what it feels like to be the only non-white person in a classroom; the isolating responsibility of being the only person of color in these types of settings is too familiar to many of us. At this year’s American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH) annual conference, a similar feeling of unease and responsibility set in with me. ASBH holds an annual conference in order to connect individuals across disciplines for the purpose of providing a platform for knowledge sharing in the fields of clinical and academic bioethics, as well as medical and health humanities.…

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This editorial appears in the Jan 2022 issue of the American Journal of Bioethics.

Elizabeth P. Clayborne and Marcella Nunez-Smith

As physicians, the supreme importance of health and its integral role in any individual’s pursuit of life, liberty and happiness is exhibited on a daily basis. It is abundantly clear that without health one cannot focus on any other facet of life and therefore health serves as the foundation on which wellness is grounded. It has also become clear that social determinants of health have a significant influence on health status and remain paradoxically the most malleable and yet the most challenging paradigm through which we can improve the lives of human beings.…

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This editorial appears in the Jan 2022 issue of the American Journal of Bioethics.

Joel E. Pacyna and Richard R. Sharp

Empirical bioethics research has become an established field of study, with its own unique goals, vocabulary, and methods (Camporesi and Cavaliere 2021; Lee and McCarty 2016; Sugarman 2010), and with many universities and academic health centers hosting bioethics programs that support a variety of educational and translational research activities. Appropriately, the success of these programs has prompted closer scrutiny of their impact and relevance to the aims of medicine. In this issue of the journal, for example, Fabi and Goldberg challenge bioethicists to consider whether sources of funding for bioethics scholarship are helping to mitigate health inequities or contributing to those very inequities by redirecting the field toward other ethical concerns (Fabi and Goldberg 2022).…

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Steven H Miles, MD

For the first part of my medical career, I worked in intensive care units, hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes. Every morning I got a note telling me which of my patients were hospitalized. I was expected to see them. I made house calls to families in crisis (although this was being suppressed and so I did this off duty). When families or patients were frightened, usually by medical instability or the imminence of death, I wrote my phone number on my business card and gave it to them. (Many colleagues assured me I would be abused by this practice; I never was.)…

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12/20/2021 Gimme a Boost?

Kyle Ferguson, PhD Arthur Caplan, PhD

The unfairness of “boosters” might seem self-evident: Millions of Americans are receiving third doses of COVID-19 vaccines before billions in poorer countries receive their firsts. Global vaccine distribution is starkly unequal, and now Americans are getting even more of a precious resource. The severe disparities in vaccine access and coverage around the world lead some people to feel that rich countries’ “booster” campaigns are unethical. But that feeling, no matter how good-natured and sincere, is mistaken. Enhanced vaccination campaigns are ethically justified despite the context of global inequality in which they occur. To think otherwise is to be in the grips of a flawed framing of the issue, one that creates a false ethical dilemma.…

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by Mary Faith Marshall, PhD, FCCM, HEC-C

You might ask what sunbathing topless at the beach in Ocean City, Maryland and having an abortion have in common. Well, I’ve done both, (more than once), and I have a personal stake in continued access to them both—as should all persons with breasts who don’t identify as cisgendered men, and all persons capable of becoming pregnant.

Given the exceptional focus on the Supreme Court’s recent hearing on S. B. 8, (the Texas “bounty hunter” abortion law banning abortions after detection of a fetal heartbeat and granting enforcement to citizen vigilantes) you might have missed the case of Eline et al v.…

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by Delaney Maxwell

With the rise of multiomic research and databases, there is also an increased risk to the privacy of research participants and biological data. Beginning this illustration, I decided to take a neutral tone approach as the intent of the article was not to scare but to present the possibilities and propose a new framework for assessing these risks. My concept was similar to a where’s waldo page – identifying a specific person amongst a big crowd – but the viewer has found who they are looking for. The magnifying glass is consistent with this idea of sleuthing out the subject.…

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by Meghan C. Halley

Note: The following editorial was recently published in the American Journal of Bioethics, Volume 21, Issue 12 (2021).

In this issue, Lynch and colleagues (2021) discuss lessons learned from the “Operation Warp Speed” response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States—both about what to do and what not to do for non-pandemic diseases. In outlining these lessons, the authors provide a cogent and well-reasoned set of recommendations for advocates and policymakers seeking to advance biomedical research in a particular disease area. They specifically caution against policies that prioritize early access to investigational therapies in a manner that might compromise the ability to collect empirical data to confirm safety and efficacy.…

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by Craig Klugman, PhD

Kathleen (Kathy) Ellen Powderly was a medical educator, clinical ethicist, medical historian, nurse-midwife, avid knitter, cat mom to Casey, mentor, and friend.  She was an Associate Professor and Director of the John Conley Division of Medical Ethics and Humanities at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, where she began working in 1989. She held cross appointments in the College of Medicine and the College of Nursing as well as serving as clinical ethics consultant at University Hospital of Brooklyn and Kings County Hospital Center. She was Vice-Chair of the NYC Health & Hospitals Corporation Ethics Committee and a senator in the SUNY University Faculty Senate.…

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