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Scarce vaccine supplies in an influenza pandemic should not be distributed randomly: reply to McLachlan
  1. Alistair Wardrope
  1. Correspondence to Alistair Wardrope, The Medical School, University of Sheffield, Beech Hill Road, Sheffield S10 2RX, UK; ajbwardrope1{at}


In a recent paper, Hugh McLachlan argues from a deontological perspective that the most ethical means of distributing scarce supplies of an effective vaccine in the context of an influenza pandemic would be via an equal lottery. I argue that, even if one accepts McLachlan's ethical theory, it does not follow that one should accept the vaccine lottery. McLachlan's argument relies upon two suppressed premises which, I maintain, one need not accept; and it misconstrues vaccination programmes as clinical interventions targeted solely at protecting the health of vaccinated individuals, rather than as public health interventions targeted at protecting the health of the population as a whole.

  • Distributive Justice
  • Public Health Ethics
  • Public Policy

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