Perhaps the question isn’t whether you’d be taking someone else’s spot but whose spot you’d be taking. I think of the verse that we apparently owe to the 19th-century English jurist and wit Charles Bowen:
The rain, it raineth on the just
And also on the unjust fella.
But chiefly on the just, because
The unjust steals the just’s umbrella.
In a situation where expiring vaccine doses will be offered to all comers — lest they simply go to waste — you have no reason to think that the dose you eschew will go to someone in greater need; if those concerned with justice demur, the dose may simply go to those not so concerned, assuming it goes to anyone. There’s always going to be a trade-off between getting the country swiftly vaccinated and exquisitely fine-tuning the rollout to reflect each person’s risk profile. If a sporadic all-comers approach is the best way to prevent wasted doses, it isn’t unfair, and you’re not wrong to participate in it.
There’s always going to be a trade-off between getting the country swiftly vaccinated and exquisitely fine-tuning the rollout to reflect each person’s risk profile.
There’s one other thing to bear in mind. Although you’re very unlikely, at your age, to become seriously ill with Covid-19, you can still spread it. In fact, it’s not uncommon for people who never show serious symptoms of the disease to transmit the virus. The available evidence suggests that once you’re vaccinated, transmission is less likely, perhaps much less likely. As with wearing a mask, then, your getting vaccinated helps protect others as well as you. It’s much better that a dose goes into your arm than into the trash.
I live in a state that is prioritizing vaccinations for those over 65 and anyone over 16 with chronic health conditions. As elsewhere, the rollout has been less than smooth: It has been reported that last weekend, when the county announced that it had 9,000 appointments available, it received over 30,000 simultaneous phone calls. There is no “proof of chronic condition” required, and our state has made it clear that it is trusting in the honor system for those seeking vaccination.
I’m 44 years old and reasonably healthy. I’ve been overweight since childhood. At times in my adult life, I’ve been much heavier than I am currently, which is hovering right at the border between “overweight” and “obese” (classified as a B.M.I. of 30 or higher; I’m around a 29 right now). My state considers anyone who is classified as “obese” to be in the priority group for vaccinations. Is it ethical for me to bend the definition of “chronic condition” and, in theory, jump ahead of someone else who might be in a much higher risk category? Name Withheld