A University of Pennsylvania ethics professor faces widespread criticism after suggesting essential workers should be vaccinated against COVID-19 first in the United States, even before vulnerable seniors.
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“Older populations are whiter. Society is structured in such a way as to enable them to live longer. Instead of giving extra health benefits to those who already have more, we should start leveling the playing field a bit, ”Harald Schmidt said in an interview with New York Times.
In a tweet, the professor clarified that many people 65 and older can live in safe lockdown, with relatively less inconvenience than other sections of the population, until they receive the vaccine.
However, essential workers do not necessarily have the opportunity to isolate themselves and must continue their activities, despite the risks.
“Vaccinating all healthy people 65 and over before essential workers risks worsening racial and economic disparities. We must therefore focus on vulnerability across and within population groups, ”added the expert.
In the United States, the CDC “should use their index of social vulnerability” to establish the order of priority for the vaccination, judges the expert.
The Vulnerability Index uses census measures such as poverty, unemployment, disability, housing status and education to determine which communities are most likely to feel the effects of a health crisis.
At least 18 states plan to use this indicator, said Professor Schmidt. It is the states and the governors who will establish the vaccination priorities after receiving the recommendations of the CDC.
The CDC CEO has indicated that he will support immunization for seniors.
In history, states have usually always backed up on CDC recommendations, but are not required to do so.
Tennessee, for its part, has indicated that it will reserve some of its early powers for “disadvantaged communities.”
Seniors most affected
As many as 221,000 Americans who died from COVID-19 were over 65, about 80% of the total deaths recorded until Wednesday, according to CDC data.
Professor Harald Schmidt’s comments angered many Internet users who judged that they were completely inappropriate, and that seniors are almost dying of loneliness in these difficult times.