Rabbi Cherlow: Can One Prioritize Vaccinated Patients Over the Unvaccinated?

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow

This article was taken from an interview of Ben Caspit and Aryeh Eldad with Rabbi Cherlow on Radio 103 FM.

The primary position is that one must navigate between the right of the person not to vaccinate and the price and responsibility that they assume in this condition, and therefore it should first and foremost be clear that one is obligated to treat every person. When dealing with an emergency situation one must triage according to the medical condition of the two patients appearing before them.  

When dealing with ethics we try to include all ethical issues in our decision-making process. When dealing with lifesaving, we do not make calculations. A patient is a patient, it is not possible to be sure that their condition is due to the fact that they aren’t vaccinated and therefore, it is a legitimate consideration only when there is a large group of people who have not been vaccinated. Such is the case when opening a new medical center, then it is possible to say, ‘I give priority to those who are vaccinated’. 

Yet, ethics obligates that man take responsibility for his decisions. It does not make sense for a person to keep their autonomy only for its merits and not its drawbacks. 

Where there is doubt, and it is unknown what the situation is, then this is an emergency situation and in emergency situations one may abide by the accepted protocols for triage. When we are managing a healthcare system, it is not a case of lifesaving but of prioritization of treatment, and it is not possible that we will not utilize this as a factor for personal responsibility towards society, the healthcare system, and other patients. 

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