Limited COVID-19 vaccine supply raises bioethics, equity questions

A researcher at Protein Sciences works in a lab
A researcher at Protein Sciences works in a lab on March 12 in Meriden, Conn. The biotech company is currently researching a vaccine for COVID-19.
Jessica Hill | AP Photo file

Vaccinations for COVID-19 began across the country Monday morning. However, there aren't enough doses for everyone who wants or needs the vaccine to be immunized right away.

The supply shortage and logistical concerns with transportation and storage raise important questions on how the vaccine should be distributed. Minnesota is expecting doses for about 183,400 people in the initial rollout, which will cover about 3 percent of the state’s nearly 5.7 million residents.

Across the country, your spot in line largely depends on the parameters set by the health department and governor in your state. MPR News host Kerri Miller spoke with a vaccine researcher and a bioethicist about the best practices and challenges of distributing vaccines in a global pandemic.


  • Dr. Greg Poland is director of the Vaccine Research Group at Mayo Clinic.

  • Arthur Caplan is the founding head of the Division of Medical Ethics at the NYU School of Medicine. 

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