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Vaccine Distribution Challenge
Read the following case description and answer the associated questions on the back of this page. Essay should be 2 pages ling (typed, single-spaced).
You are a public health official in your community. More specifically, you are the chief administrator for your community’s vaccination program. Your current task is to devise a “fair allocation” scheme for distributing the vaccine against a newly discovered virus, which we will simply call virus V. Infections of V risk severe impairment to human health and well-being for extended periods of time (loss of normal functioning and daily activities like work and school can last for up to a month, though less severe outcomes occur in 50% of cases). Patients infected with V exhibit intense flu-like symptoms. Mortality for those infected with V results in 1/1000 cases. Recent outbreaks of V have been reported in surrounding cities.
Background information and case assumptions
Community Members
· 1000 people live in your community. Assume there are 200 elderly individuals, 200 children, and 600 adults. Each person wants to be vaccinated (in cases of children, their guardians want the kids to be vaccinated). Thus, no one desires *not* to be vaccinated.
· Young children and elderly individuals are most at risk for the illness, if left unvaccinated. However, symptoms and risk of mortality are no more severe in children and the elderly than they are in adults.
· Community members have varied work (and school) schedules. In addition, many have care-taking roles and responsibilities that make visits to the clinic during normal working hours difficult. Moreover, many citizens do not have private transportation. Public transportation is unreliable and not available to all within city limits. Taxis, Uber, Lyft, etc, are cost prohibitive for many individuals.
· 700 doses of the vaccine are available. Your supply is fixed. So no future doses will be available anytime soon. You cannot increase supply through purchase from another medical facility, governmental agency, or manufacturer.
· Each dose of the vaccine is minimally medically potent – smaller doses (e.g., half doses) are medically futile; they offer no protection against V. Thus, for our purposes, each dose of the vaccine for V is to be treated as “indivisible”.
· Not all community members have medical insurance that will cover payment for the vaccination. Out-of-pocket cost for the vaccine is $100. However, not all can afford to pay that much (and some cannot pay anything at all). At present, you don’t know how many people have insurance; nor do you know who can pay how much, out-of-pocket.
· However, you do know 10 specific community members who are willing to pay $200 each for a dose of the vaccine.
· The public health department cannot afford to administer the vaccines free of cost to all. Your budget won’t allow for this, since zero revenue will significantly impair your ability to continue funding existing public health priorities (e.g., diabetes and cancer screenings, drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs, etc.). You are looking to recover at least $4000 from administration of this vaccine in order to keep other public health programs afloat into next month. (By stipulation, no loans or other forms of financing are possible).
Homework Instructions
In ` two pages (typed, single-spaced), do the following:
1. Consider a first-come, first-served basis for distributing the vaccine. Assume that on this plan, the vaccine would be administered at a centrally located clinic downtown. Hours of operation would be from 8 AM to 5 PM. Vaccines would be offered until supply is exhausted.
· Identify and explain some problems with this method. More specifically, present and explain at least three reasons why might this allocation scheme might be unfair.
2. Next, sketch an improved method for distributing the vaccine.
· Describe the basic components of your distribution method, and explain why you think this method would be more fair than the first-come, first served approach.
· Show why your method satisfies the “equity”, “impartiality” and “uniformity” factors outlined by Rescher (p. 10).
3. Finally, reflect on your proposed method
· note any challenges for your distribution system.
· Identify any ways in which you might compensate or care for those unable to receive the vaccine for V.

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