COVID-19 vaccine boosters for young adults: a risk benefit assessment and ethical analysis of mandate policies at universities

“University booster mandates are unethical because they: (1) are not based on an updated (Omicron era) stratified risk-benefit assessment for this age group; (2) may result in a net harm to healthy young adults; (3) are not proportionate: expected harms are not outweighed by public health benefits given modest and transient effectiveness of vaccines against transmission; (4) violate the reciprocity principle because serious vaccine-related harms are not reliably compensated due to gaps in vaccine injury schemes; and (5) may result in wider social harms. We consider counterarguments including efforts to increase safety on campus but find these are fraught with limitations and little scientific support.”””University booster mandates are unethical because they: (1) are not based on an updated (Omicron era) stratified risk-benefit assessment for this age group; (2) may result in a net harm to healthy young adults; (3) are not proportionate: expected harms are not outweighed by public health benefits given modest and transient effectiveness of vaccines against transmission; (4) violate the reciprocity principle because serious vaccine-related harms are not reliably compensated due to gaps in vaccine injury schemes; and (5) may result in wider social harms. We consider counterarguments including efforts to increase safety on campus but find these are fraught with limitations and little scientific support.”

Bardosh K, Krug A, Jamrozik E, et al. COVID-19 vaccine boosters for young adults: a risk benefit assessment and ethical analysis of mandate policies at universities. Journal of Medical Ethics Published Online First: 05 December 2022. doi: 10.1136/jme-2022-108449

https://jme.bmj.com/content/early/2022/12/05/jme-2022-108449

Published by markskidmore

Mark Skidmore is Professor of Economics at Michigan State University where he holds the Morris Chair in State and Local Government Finance and Policy. His research focuses on topics in public finance, regional economics, and the economics of natural disasters. Mark created the Lighthouse Economics website and blog to share economic research and information relevant for navigating tumultuous times.

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