Considerations for fair prioritization of COVID-19 vaccine and its mandate among healthcare personnel

Curr Med Res Opin. 2021 Jun;37(6):907-909. doi: 10.1080/03007995.2021.1908245. Epub 2021 Apr 9.


With current COVID-19 vaccine demand outweighing supply and the emergency authorization/rollout of three novel vaccines in the United States, discussions continue regarding fair prioritization among various groups for this scarce resource. The US federal government's recommended vaccination schedule, meant to assist states with vaccine allocation, demonstrates fair ethical considerations; however, difficulties remain comparing various groups to determine fair vaccine access and distribution. Although strides have been taken to analyze risks versus benefits of early vaccination across certain high-risk populations, prioritizing vulnerable populations versus essential workers remains challenging for multiple reasons. Similarly, as COVID-19 vaccine allocation and distribution continues in the US and in other countries, topics that require continued consideration include sub-prioritization among currently prioritized groups, prioritization among vulnerable groups disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, like ethnic minorities, and holistic comparisons between groups who might receive various and disparate benefits from vaccination. Although all current COVID-19 vaccines are emergency authorization use only and a vaccine mandate would be considered only once these vaccines are licensed by the US Food and Drug Administration, future vaccination policies require time and deliberation. Similarly, given current vaccine hesitancy, mandatory vaccination of certain groups, like healthcare personnel, may need to be considered when these vaccines are licensed, especially if voluntary vaccination proves insufficient. Continued discussions regarding risks versus benefits of mandatory COVID-19 vaccination and the unique role of healthcare personnel in providing a safe healthcare environment could lead to better deliberation regarding potential policies. This commentary aims to address both questions of fair prioritization and sub-prioritization of various groups, as well as ethical considerations for mandatory COVID-19 vaccination among healthcare personnel.

Keywords: COVID-19 vaccine; fair prioritization; healthcare personnel; vaccine mandate.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • COVID-19 Vaccines*
  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Patient-to-Professional / prevention & control
  • Mandatory Programs* / ethics
  • Mandatory Programs* / standards
  • Mass Vaccination* / ethics
  • Mass Vaccination* / standards
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • United States


  • COVID-19 Vaccines