Not since the flu shot was first required for medical professionals have those in the healthcare field faced mandatory annual vaccinations. For most people, the majority of all inoculations are completed during childhood. From measles to the chickenpox, vaccines are generally given during adolescence, which helps to protect the public as a whole. Now that coronavirus has not only ravaged the world but left healthcare professionals in particular vulnerable, there is a chance that they will be required to take the vaccine as soon as one is approved. What does this mean for the future of healthcare and how will medical professionals cope?
Religious and Other Vaccination Exemptions in the Healthcare Community
In many ways, the personal beliefs of healthcare professionals and their duty to do no harm intersect. In the case of pharmacists, they are legally permitted to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control if it violates their religious beliefs. Now, with the rise of the anti-vaccination movement, a lot of people are becoming hesitant to get vaccinated for various diseases. Reasons for opting out of receiving vaccinations include:
As legal battles rage in state and federal courts, healthcare professionals now have to consider what this is going to mean for them when a vaccine for coronavirus is eventually found. Will these same exemptions for religious beliefs apply to opting out of taking the coronavirus vaccine, or will the needs of the people win out?
Can an Effective Coronavirus Vaccine Truly be Developed?
Right now, there are dozens of medical companies across the globe that are testing out different vaccines. While many are promising, it is anyone’s guess as to where the first effective coronavirus vaccine will emerge from. One major factor in the fight against the clock is that there seems to be a new mutated version of the disease cropping up each day. The question now is, can scientists develop a vaccine that will treat various versions of the coronavirus, or will it be treated like the flu shot, with boosters being required annually? In addition to getting a flu shot each year, will doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals also have to take the coronavirus vaccine?
Concerns About the Coronavirus Vaccine Being Rushed
Finding an effective treatment for the coronavirus is critical, but some believe that the research and testing methods are being rushed. Skeptics have to understand that scientists are doing all that they can to come up with a safe and effective treatment. In fact, some research labs have already received FDA approval to move onto the human clinical trial stage. Baylor University graduates and students taking accelerated nursing programs online could be among the first to volunteer to receive the treatment. It is actually quite commonplace for healthcare professionals to take any vaccine they recommend to their patients first in order to be certain of the potential side effects.
How Long Will It Be Become a Cure Becomes Available?
The long story short is that no one knows when the coronavirus vaccine might become available. First, scientists will need to develop a vaccine that works after being heavily tested. Test subjects from different parts of the world will need to be observed for some time. Side effects will need to be measured, and a potential vaccine could be scrapped if it becomes apparent that the side effects are too damaging. While President Trump has repeatedly pushed for a coronavirus vaccine to be finished by the fall of 2020, the reality is that no one really knows.
Widespread Availability of the Coronavirus Vaccine
When a new vaccine is developed and approved, it then has to be manufactured en masse. Since billions of doses of the coronavirus vaccine will be necessary to inoculate the world’s population, it could be several years before this goal is accomplished. Thankfully, all of the following companies are working diligently to find the cure for coronavirus:
- Regeneron Pharmaceuticals
- Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.
- Johnson & Johnson
- Altimmune Inc.
- Roch Holding
- Inovio Pharmaceuticals
- Amgen and Adaptive Biotechnologies
What is likely to happen is that the drug will be distributed in staged batches. More vulnerable populations such as people with chronic health problems and the elderly might receive it first. The country in which the vaccine is developed will also likely have access first. Unfortunately, undeveloped nations and countries with a lower GDP will probably be the last to have access to the coronavirus vaccine. However, medical professionals all over could potentially be inoculated first to better protect the public.
The Right to Say ‘No’ in the Private and Public Healthcare Sectors
U.S. citizens, regardless of their occupation and standing, have a lot of legally protected personal rights. A doctor cannot be forced to take a vaccination of any kind, but they could be limited on where they are able to practice medicine. Additionally, private and public healthcare institutions have to follow the law as well when they require their employees to make certain private medical decisions. A federally funded hospital might be severely limited in what type of vaccinations a healthcare professional is required to have. On the other hand, private healthcare institutions can pretty much make up whatever rules they want, so long as they don’t infringe on certain foundational rights. What this means is that healthcare professionals do have the right to refuse the coronavirus vaccination, but then they might also be refused employment as a result.
Doctors and scientists are coming together to help develop a vaccination for the novel coronavirus as soon as possible. Things are looking promising despite the fact that there are still no set time frames, which is par for the course when it comes to the development of vaccines. Progress cannot and should not be rushed as science is a very fickle thing.
While the world waits for a vaccine to become available, healthcare professionals are going to need to consider what their personal beliefs are and whether or not they are going to conflict with their professional duties. Now is the time to learn everything that you can about coronavirus, vaccines, and how the law impacts vaccination requirements. If you work in the healthcare sector, at some people it is highly probable that you will be preparing yourself to get vaccinated.
Disclaimer: This content does not necessarily represent the views of IWB.