Vaccination by Race, and Why It’s Unconstitutional
The Department of Veterans Affairs will apparently be prioritizing “Black, Hispanic, and Native American” veterans for the coronavirus vaccine:
While we have a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines, we’ll offer vaccines to
Veterans based on their risk. In addition to the risk of getting infection, risk of
passing infection to others, and the risk to society if someone is unable to work, we’ll
consider factors that may influence the risk of severe disease, including:
• Age. The risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 increases with age.
• Race and ethnicity. Data shows that some groups of people have been
disproportionately affected by COVID-19. These include Black, Hispanic, and
Native American communities.
• Existing health problems. People with certain health problems (like cancer,
diabetes, or heart disease) have a higher risk of severe illness or death from
• Other factors that raise risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19, such
as living in a nursing home or other group living facility.
But this would violate equal protection rights. (The Equal Protection Clause by its terms applies only to states, but Supreme Court precedents have held that similar principles apply to the federal government,
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