COVID vaccination and medical triage

The CBC has some interesting reporting on the medical ethics of triage in relation to the voluntarily unvaccinated:

Udo Schuklenk, Ontario Research Chair in bioethics at Queens University and co-editor of the journal Bioethics, questions the argument that vaccine refusers are victims of misinformation.

“There’s many people in my field who go on about equity considerations, and [how] these people don’t know better and they have been misled,” he said. “And my view is, they have made their autonomous choice.”

“And if you’re telling me that they are unable to make a sensible choice, then we should take this choice away from them. But we should not, on the one hand, give them this choice, and then not hold them accountable for it.

“The vast majority of people in my field of bioethics would disagree with me on what I just said. They’d say there’s many people who don’t know better and have been misled. And my point is, that may well be true, but then this should have a consequence on the kind of choices that these people are permitted to make.”

I understand and can broadly applaud the ethics of doctors treating everyone equally based on the severity of the risks they face, without consideration of whether they brought on those risks voluntarily. At the same time, public health measures in the face of an epidemic are an ancient and appropriate authority of the state and it seems totally reasonable to restrict the activities of people who refuse to comply.

Surely one of the big injustices of the pandemic has been all the people who need non-COVID treatment suffering worse outcomes because the voluntarily unvaccinated are absorbing too many of the resources of the medical system.

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