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Grand Rounds: Ethical Dilemmas Associated with Vaccine Allocation


By Jessica Turnbull, MD, MA , Assistant Professor of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, Faculty at the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN

Objectives (Educational Content) :

1. Identify the ethical dilemmas associated with vaccine allocation in times of 'business as usual' as well as during pandemics. 2. Analyze the concepts of the best interest standard in regard to vaccine allocation on the micro-, meso- and macro- scales. 3. Generate ethically-supportable paths forward in order to resolve dilemmas associated with vaccine allocation.

Target Audience:

General pediatricians, family physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, social workers, psychologists, and nurses.

Identified Gap:

Resolve issues impacting vaccine allocation, during all times, including pandemics.

Estimated Time to Complete the Educational Activity:

1 hour(s)

Expiration Date for CE/CME Credit:


Method of Participation in the Learning Process:

The learner will view the presentation, successfully complete a post-test and complete an activity evaluation.

Evaluation Methods:

All learners must successfully complete a post-test, as well as an activity evaluation, to claim CE/CME credit.


Dr. Turnbull has indicated that there are no relevant financial or other relationships with any commercial interests and that this activity was developed independent of commercial interest.

Accreditation Statement:

Children’s Hospital Medical Center of Akron is accredited by the Ohio State Medical Association to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

CHMCA designates this enduring material activity for a maximum of 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit TM.  Physicians should only claim the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.


Bloom DE, Madhavan G. Vaccines: from valuation to resource allocation. Vaccine. 2015 Jun 8;33 Suppl 2:B52-4. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2015.02.071. PMID: 26022569.

Rao IJ, Brandeau ML. Optimal allocation of limited vaccine to control an infectious disease: Simple analytical conditions. Math Biosci. 2021 Jul;337:108621. doi: 10.1016/j.mbs.2021.108621. Epub 2021 Apr 27. PMID: 33915160; PMCID: PMC8076816.

Sekalala S, Perehudoff K, Parker M, Forman L, Rawson B, Smith M. An intersectional human rights approach to prioritising access to COVID-19 vaccines. BMJ Glob Health. 2021 Feb;6(2):e004462. doi: 10.1136/bmjgh-2020-004462. PMID: 33627362; PMCID: PMC7907827.

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