The Murky Ethics of Paying People to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine
Some healthcare workers refuse to take COVID-19 vaccine
329 Deaths, 9,516 Injuries Following COVID Vaccine + Can Your Employer Make You Get the COVID Vaccine?
Facing sluggish demand, especially among healthcare workers, for Pfizer’s and Moderna’s experimental COVID vaccines, employers float a variety of incentives that some say border on coercion.
Healthcare Workers Refuse To Take COVID-19 Vaccine
Three weeks into January, following the December decision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to grant emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s and Moderna’s experimental mRNA vaccines, roughly 14 million Americans have received one or more doses of coronavirus vaccine.
However, the 14 million adults vaccinated thus far fall significantly short of Operation Warp Speed’s goal of administering 20 million shots by the end of 2020. Officials are offering two primary reasons for the “sluggish” vaccine rollout: logistical (supply-side) problems and the demand-side hurdle of vaccine refusal.
Scott Gottlieb, the former FDA commissioner who passed through the revolving door to join Pfizer’s board of directors in 2019, predicts that demand for the shots will become “soft” after just a third of the U.S. population has accepted the jab.
The fact is, despite the omnipresent messaging in favor of the experimental vaccines, many Americans’ interest in COVID-19 vaccination is tepid at best. This is particularly the case among the healthcare and nursing home workers being asked to take the risk of rolling up their sleeves first. Many are refusing the shots, taking pains to explain that they are not “anti-vaxxers” but object to being “guinea pigs.”
From Los Angeles to Ohio to Maine, up to 60% of vaccine-eligible frontline health workers are declining the as-yet-unlicensed mRNA vaccines. Health systems — “intent on getting doses to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible” — report that in some locations, the vaccine is “‘literally sitting in freezers’ because healthcare workers [do] not want to take it.”
The situation is similar in the nation’s nursing homes, where “workers have been more reluctant than residents to be vaccinated.” According to a group that represents for-profit nursing homes, half of long-term care staff are unwilling to get the COVID shots. And over time, nursing home employees who witness elderly residents dying within hours or days of getting their injections may become even more reluctant to play vaccine roulette.
Discussing the issue of mandates, a Yale executive declared in early December that it is possible to “accomplish [vaccination] without forcing people,” citing as evidence an occasion when he received a piece of cake in exchange for getting a flu shot. Acknowledging that acceptance of experimental COVID-19 vaccines might require “more than a sheet cake,” he nonetheless suggested that “small financial incentives” might be adequate to the task.
Apparently, America’s private sector has reached similar conclusions. A growing number of companies (including, but not limited to, the healthcare sector) are offering “wary staff members” financial and non-financial incentives aimed at shifting employees’ decisional balance in favor of COVID vaccination. By Children’s Health Defense Team