Medical ethicist on encourages everyone to get vaccinated, but only once eligible

Covid19 Vaccine
Posted at 11:00 PM, Mar 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-23 00:12:55-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennessee announced a big step forward Monday to get the COVID vaccine in as many arms as possible: the state health department says it will be ready to open up vaccine appointments to anyone 16 and up in just 2 weeks.

But even so, there are still some people not categorized to get the vaccine. So we asked a Vanderbilt medical ethicist whether it is ethical for those people to get a vaccine right now, anyway.

Vanderbilt medical ethics Dr. Ellen Clayton says that depends.

"First of all, it’s ethically important to get the vaccine, not only for your own health but to stop this awful pandemic," Clayton said.

And she says that includes traveling to a different county if it’s easier to get an appointment there.

"I’d say that’s entirely ethically appropriate," Clayton said. "If you had asked me this question a month ago, I think this would’ve been a harder question because there were so there really was limited vaccine."

But she says ethically that does not extend to lying about your own conditions to make you eligible now or getting a vaccine just because you think you come in contact with a lot of people and disagree with the state’s criteria.

"If they have some concerns about how the categories are working and what they need to do is advocate, call [Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner] Lisa Piercey and tell her that we need to figure out how to do this," Clayton said.

But even with no success there, Tennesseans won’t have that much longer to wait. That’s because the state announced all of its facilities should be able to give a vaccine to anyone 16 and up in just two weeks.

That’s fabulous news," Clayton said. "And ethically, that’s also fabulous news, if people will just take it."