Should the sick and elderly get flu vaccine first?

A bioethicist says no:

“Death seems more tragic when a child or young adult dies than an elderly person — not because the lives of older people are less valuable, but because the younger person has not had the opportunity to live and develop through all stages of life,” Drs. Ezekiel Emanuel and Alan Wertheimer wrote for today’s issue of the journal Science.

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  • Gasman

    I allocating scarce resources one must establish the goal. In this instance it would probably best be stated as ‘maximize the number of years of life saved’. One also needs to meet societies secondary goals of not systematically creating disadvantage to any particular protected group of the day, such as drug availability based upon income, race, ethinic group etc.

    So we must make the best estimates as to risk prevention with the vaccine. For example, the 80 year old with a statistical 5 year life expectancy and a 10% mortality without and a 5% mortality with the vaccine would have a 5 x 5% = .25 year of life gain (statistical average for his group).

    A child with a 75 year life expectancy and a 2 % without and 1% with drug mortality would have a 75 x 1% or .75 year of life gained. Even though the drug provides less absolute effect in this scenario, the magnitude of the end result differs.

    The challenge is to come up with reasonably agreed upon estimates before the epidemic and derive a plan for distribution.

    Or we could just put it on an E-bay auction and let market forces distribute the drug