The Conversation: ‘Off-label’ use is common in medicine…why COVID-19 vaccines are different

A UC bioethicist explains why the COVID-19 vaccines are different than other medicines

Elizabeth Lanphier, a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at the UC College of Medicine and a research assistant professor in the UC Department of Philosophy, and Shannon Fyfe, assistant professor of philosophy and adjunct professor of law at George Mason University, co-authored an article in The Conversation, explaining their analysis on the potential for “off label” use of COVID-19 vaccines.   

headshot of Elizabeth Lanphier

Elizabeth Lanphier, PhD. Photo/provided by Lanphier.

Off-label refers to the administration of an FDA-approved product for a different population, use or dosage than what it was approved for. It is a common practice in health care.

The FDA and the American Academy of Pediatrics have warned against off-label use of COVID-19 vaccines in kids; and the CDC prohibits it based on the COVID-19 vaccine provider agreement it has with pharmacies, hospitals and clinics that are administering COVID-19 vaccines.“Off-label vaccination is not a strategy for mass vaccination. But our research suggests that off-label use of COVID-19 vaccines is an ethically permissible option on a case-by-case basis,” says Lanphier.

Lanphier and Fyfe authored The Conversation article based on their recent analysis of the topic, which is published in The Hastings Report

Featured photo at top by CDC on Unsplash.

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