Ethics Quiz: Race-Based Vaccines

It’s hard to believe that officials in Hamilton, Ontario, one of Canada largest cities, didn’t hear the faint clanging of ethics alarms when they came up with this policy.

The CBC reported that public health officials pressured the agency to “prioritize racialized, disabled and low-income residents.” I think “racialized” is a cool euphemism, don’t you? How does one get “racialized”?

75% of Hamilton’s population is white, but non-white communities have accounted for nearly half of all pandemic cases in the city.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Is Hamilton’s policy ethical?

I’m amazed no city has tried this in the U.S.

Tree Day Ethics Warm-Up, December 22, 2020

Tree needles

I’ll be writing this between bouts with the lights. The Marshall Tree was supposed to go up a week ago, then it rained, so the thing had to dry out. Then last week was consumed with an expert witness report, and now this weird tree with long needles and soft branches is standing in my living room, and none of my usual decoration techniques, and probably only 30% of our ornaments, will work with the damn thing. Yesterday I was supposed to hang the lights, and I was so stressed out I couldn’t do it. But today is the day…

1. Anyone surprised at this? A December survey by the international organization More in Common seemed to show that citizens on the far left are the most likely to report negative feelings about the United States.. Only 34% of the group More in Common calls “progressive activists” agreed with the statement “I feel proud to be American.” It was the only ideological group in the survey that agreed with that statement at a rate below 60%

All other respondent groups, including minorities and Americans identifying as politically conservative, strongly agreed with the statement, including 70% of black Americans and 76% of Hispanic Americans. Whites registered a 75% proportion asserting patriotic pride.

100% of the group categorized as “devoted conservatives” said that they take pride in being Americans. 80% of all respondents surveyed said they were thankful to be American, with more than two-thirds reporting a connection to their local communities and fellow Americans. The weakest sense of belonging to the culture and community came from progressive activists and younger respondents.

2. On priority for vaccines...I have read a lot of unethical nonsense being framed as ethics about the question of who should get the vaccine first. I expect to read a lot more. A Times article on the topic says, “Ultimately, the choice comes down to whether preventing death or curbing the spread of the virus and returning to some semblance of normalcy is the highest priority.” Is that really a difficult choice? Obviously the top priority for society in both the long and the short run is to get back to normal as quickly as possible, not to prioritize trying to delay the mortality of citizens who don’t have that long to live anyway. I haven’t heard the “if it saves just one life” rationalization yet, but I’m sure it is coming.

Then there is this: “To me the issue of ethics is very significant, very important for this country,” Dr. Peter Szilagyi, a committee member and a pediatrics professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said at the time, “and clearly favors the essential worker group because of the high proportion of minority, low-income and low-education workers among essential workers.”

There it is: let’s prioritize by race, because not prioritizing by race is racist.

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