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Ethics of college vaccine mandates, using reasonable comparisons
  1. Leo L Lam1,
  2. Taylor Nichols2
  1. 1 CoMotion, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  2. 2 Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Leo L Lam, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA; leo{at}


In the paper ‘COVID-19 vaccine boosters for young adults: a risk–benefit assessment and ethical analysis of mandate policies at universities,’ Bardosh et al argued that college mandates of the COVID-19 booster vaccine are unethical. The authors came to this conclusion by performing three different sets of comparisons of benefits versus risks using referenced data and argued that the harm outweighs the risk in all three cases. In this response article, we argue that the authors frame their arguments by comparing values that are not scientifically or reasonably comparable and that the authors used values that represent grossly different risk profiles and grouped them into a set of figures to create an illusion of fair comparisons. We argue that absent the falsely skewed portrayals of a higher level of risk over benefit in their misrepresented figures, the five ethical arguments they presented completely fall apart.

  • ethics
  • COVID-19
  • policy
  • ethics- medical

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  • Twitter @SeattleiteLeo, @tnicholsmd

  • Contributors Manuscript and analysis by LLL and TN contributed to the editing, review and analysis of this manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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