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What money can’t buy: an argument against paying people to get vaccinated


This paper considers the proposal to pay people to get vaccinated against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The first section introduces arguments against the proposal, including less intrusive alternatives, unequal effects on populations and economic conditions that render payment more difficult to refuse. The second section considers arguments favouring payment, including arguments appealing to health equity, consistency, being worth the cost, respect for autonomy, good citizenship, the ends justifying the means and the threat of mutant strains. The third section spotlights long-term and short-term best practices that can build trust and reduce ‘vaccine hesitancy’ better than payment. The paper concludes that people who, for a variety of reasons, are reluctant to vaccinate should be treated like adults, not children. Despite the urgency of getting shots into arms, we should set our sights on the long-term goals of strong relationships and healthy communities.

  • COVID-19
  • autonomy
  • ethics
  • paternalism
  • public health ethics

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