Lying for vaccinations is unethical, diverts resources to unneeded areas

March 30, 2021 — by Allen Luo

Graphic by Sina Salehi

With California moving to allow vaccinations for all citizens by mid-April, the California Public Health Department has implemented an eligibility system due to a limited number of available vaccinations — but this system has proved prone to abuse. 

Those who are classified as high risk for a COVID-19 infection, including healthcare workers, people over the age of 65 and people with medical conditions that put them at risk, are currently eligible to have their vaccinations under the guidelines.

Due to the unclear nature of the eligibility system, however, some have taken advantage of it and received early vaccinations, despite not being high-risk, by blatantly lying and stating that they are healthcare workers, caretakers or living with a high-risk patient. 

For example, some lie about their status as an essential worker in order to bypass the system by borrowing IDs from friends.

This is clearly unethical and immoral, and strengthened security checks should be put into place to prevent it.

When someone who is normally ineligible for the vaccine lies and takes up a spot that would be filled by someone who actually needs it, it diverts both time and resources away from those who are at high-risk. Since the amount of vaccines is currently limited, each dose used on an ineligible patient results in more time a high-risk patient has to wait, putting them at more risk to contract the virus.

Currently, the lack of vaccination background checks are due to potential complications that come with requiring people to upload information to the internet. Because much of the high-risk population is older, and the majority are not as technologically savvy as younger generations, many who are eligible for the vaccine may have issues or won’t know how to upload papers or an ID. 

However, there is an easy solution to this. Requiring ID and checking for eligibility again when administering the vaccine, especially for those that are registered as a healthcare worker, would be a simple and effective way to guard against potentially ineligible patients. No one should have problems with bringing an ID — a driver’s license or passport would suffice for most, and for healthcare workers, carrying an ID should be standard. 

If someone is caught being ineligible, harsher penalties, like a fine, should be enforced. 

Although discipline is important, if pharmacies or vaccine administering facilities find that someone is ineligible, they could be relegated to the end of the day in case there are leftover vaccines that would otherwise be thrown away. Their vaccine could then be given to the next eligible patient. For unused vaccines, specific time slots could be set up, even for those ineligible, on a first-come-first-serve basis.

For the sake of an efficient normalization process, the eligibility system should be followed in order to maintain the smoothest possible transition without any more unnecessary deaths. Those who are lying about their eligibility are certainly not doing everyone quarantining any favors.