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Ethical principles created by five-member group largely determine when North Dakotans get vaccinated

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Five people were responsible for recommending who gets vaccinated for the coronavirus first in North Dakota.

As KX News reported the list, from Phase 1A to 1C, has been completed but not without some backlash.

Dr. Stephen Pickard, the liaison between the Department of Health and the committee, spoke on behalf of the North Dakota Advisory Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination Ethics for that reason. He personally has no vote but says some people have been very persistent in badgering committee members in hopes of being moved to a higher priority.

Dr. Pickard says it’s just been a few people overall, and some disappointment was expected. After all, the role of the committee is to deal with the ethical issues that arise from distributing a limited resource.

Ultimately, the committee — made up of a physician, ethicist, a local health director and a representative from both the Health Department and Department of Human Services — passed its recommendations up the ladder for the Governor’s final approval. Pickard says just minor changes were made.

“An advisory committee has no actual power,” explained the retired CDC epidemiologist.

“Their ethical principles, two of the most important were achieving maximum benefit to society and individuals. Another was that every individual, every human life is treated with equal dignity and worth. There have been people who have been unhappy that we would give it to old people in nursing homes. Our response, ethically, ‘We don’t go there. We treat every human life with equal dignity and worth.'”

Dr. Pickard says the committee disagreed with federal CDC guidelines that put critical workers before high-risk individuals and put high-risk first, in hopes of reducing deaths on the front end. He says many other states also took this approach.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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