AMA issues recommendations for protecting privacy, equity when rolling out vaccine policies

The American Medical Association (AMA) stepped into the public debate over Covid-19 vaccine mandates and vaccine credentials, calling for policies that protect public health and trust before such policies are set in motion.

All states resort to some form of vaccine mandate, notably in the form of vaccine requirements for schools and health care institutions, the AMA noted in a press release—however, the organization argued that blanket mandates for Covid-19 vaccines run the risk of alienating those who are already reluctant to get vaccinated.

“Given the high rate of asymptomatic transmission in Covid-19, vaccinating the greatest number of individuals possible is critical. While vaccines are highly effective public health tools, vaccine mandates are a blunt instrument and may carry the risk of eroding trust and undermining public health goals,” AMA President Gerald E. Harmon, MD, said in a statement. “We can reach herd immunity with a robust public campaign which would have the benefit of respecting patients’ autonomy and minimize disproportional burdens on marginalized communities. Failure to achieve herd immunity is more likely to result in mandates.”

At a Special Meeting of the AMA’s House of Delegates, the organization recommended that, before vaccine mandates are set in motion:

  • “The vaccine receive full approval from the Food and Drug Administration through a Biological Licenses Application.
  • “The mandate follow the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices as approved the by CDC director.
  • “Individuals subject to the mandate be given meaningful opportunity to voluntarily accept vaccination.
  • “Implementation of the mandate not exacerbate inequities or adversely affect already marginalized populations.”

The AMA also noted that additional steps ought to be taken before digital vaccine credentials—which the organizations noted are often erroneously referred to as “vaccine passports”—are implemented, and that the federal government should play a role in “establishing, publicizing, and enforcing” guidelines for their use.

Prior to implementing digital vaccine credentials, the AMA argued that the following needs to occur:

  • “Vaccine is widely accessible.
  • “Equity-centered privacy protections are in place to safeguard data collected from individuals.
  • “Provisions are in place to ensure that digital vaccine credential do not exacerbate inequities.
  • “Digital credentials have a way to address the situation of individuals for whom vaccine is medically contraindicated.”

Harmon added that, while President Biden’s administration has said it will not be creating federal digital vaccine credentials, “the federal government must be vigilant on issues of equity and privacy. We can’t leave these decisions to the app marketplace which profits by exploiting user data.”

John McKenna, Associate Editor, BreakingMED™

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Topic ID: 79,190,730,933,190,926,192,927,151,928,925,934