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COVID-19 vaccine boosters for young adults: a risk benefit assessment and ethical analysis of mandate policies at universities
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  • Published on:
    Need to consider other benefits of COVID-19 vaccine boosters in university students
    • Judy Platt, Chief Health Officer and Executive Director, Student Health Services Boston University
    • Other Contributors:
      • Davidson H. Hamer, Infectious disease specialist, consultant to Student Health Services
      • Marie E. Caggiano, Medical Director, Tufts University Health Service
      • Giang T. Nguyen, Executive Director, Harvard University Health Services
      • Cecilia Stuopis, Medical Director, MIT Medical

    We read with interest this risk-benefit and ethical analysis of the utility of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine boosters in university students. We have some major concerns about the choice of hospitalization as the primary measure of benefit. From the onset of the pandemic, healthcare providers, scientists, and public health experts in higher education have been learning from shared experiences, research, and evolving medical knowledge about the best way to safely populate college campuses with students, faculty, and staff. Hospitalizations averted is not the only marker of morbidity that is relevant to the college student population and given the rarity of severe disease requiring hospitalization in young, generally very healthy adults, hospitalization is not a good choice for a marker of COVID-19 related morbidity. We have also strived to minimize the risk of missed classes, severe illness, and need for prolonged medical leaves of absence given the potential adverse academic consequences of illness for students. Colleges and universities have been trying to balance infectious disease mitigation efforts with the need for in-person learning, social interactions, and the increased mental health challenges caused by some of these efforts that furthered the experience of isolation.

    Much has changed since early 2020 and most schools have continued to evolve their protocols and policies to reflect new information and relevant data. We are dedicated to learning and contributing to th...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.
  • Published on:
    The proportionality principle is the wrong ethical standard for vaccine mandates

    The article does not engage with the objections (published in this journal and also in response to the previous article by the same lead author) to the applicability of the ‘proportionality principle’ to ethical judgment when the considered intervention violates the right to life and discriminates on the basis of healthy, innate biological characteristics of the human race. In particular, the proportionality principle is irrelevant to coercive policies (mandates) if the associated procedure is known to kill a small percentage of people and therefore amounts to a mandated killing of a minority for the benefit of the majority. The right to life cannot be taken away in the interests of others, even if the majority would greatly benefit from the killing, without negating the very concept of human rights: if being born human is not a guarantee of the right to life, then there is no right to life. On this view, vaccination mandates can no longer be considered healthcare but democide.

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/medethics-2020-107026

    https://gh.bmj.com/content/7/5/e008684.responses#fundamental-values-cann...

    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.

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