Global Health Colloquium: COVID-19 Vaccine Policy-Making—Evidence, Values, and Expert Advice

Mar 25, 2022, 12:00 pm1:30 pm
Zoom (Registration Required)
Free & open to the public



Event Description


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COVID-19 vaccines have transformed the trajectory of the global pandemic. Since their introduction 16 months ago, health officials and their expert advisors have had to respond to rapidly emerging and evolving evidence and an array of corresponding policy questions, doing so at a relentless pace and under unprecedented public scrutiny. Using the COVID-19 vaccination program in the United States as its principal case study, this talk will examine how the deliberations of government expert advisory bodies have informed the work of public health agencies in translating evidence into policy in the design and implementation of vaccination efforts. It will highlight the challenges and conflicts that have arisen throughout this work, the ways in which values and value judgements have shaped the perspectives and recommendations of scientific experts, and how the international context of COVID-19 vaccination has influenced discussions of domestic vaccination policy.


Jason L. Schwartz is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Yale School of Public Health. His research examines vaccines and vaccination policy, decision-making in medical regulation and public health policy, and the structure and function of scientific expert advice to government. The overall focus of his work is on the ways in which evidence is interpreted, evaluated, and translated into regulation and policy in medicine and public health. He holds a secondary appointment in the Section of the History of Medicine at the Yale School of Medicine and is also affiliated with Yale's Institution for Social and Policy Studies and Program in the History of Science and Medicine.

Schwartz's publications have appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine, The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), The American Journal of Public Health, Health Affairs, The Milbank Quarterly, and elsewhere. He is also an author of the chapter titled “Ethics” in Plotkin's Vaccines, the leading textbook of vaccine science and policy, and editor of Vaccination Ethics and Policy: An Introduction with Readings (MIT Press, 2017). Among his current research projects is a book, Medicine by Committee: Expert Advice and Health Care in Modern America, that examines the emergence, evolution, and continuing influence of expert advisory committees in American medicine and public health from the 1960s to the present, particularly regarding pharmaceuticals, vaccines, and screening technologies. This project is supported by the National Institutes of Health. Other ongoing projects examine how policy-makers, regulators, payers, physicians, and patients evaluate and respond to the risks, benefits, and costs of medical interventions.

Schwartz regularly teaches courses and gives lectures on vaccination issues, health policy and the U.S. health care system, pharmaceuticals and the FDA, science advice to government, and related topics. His research and perspectives have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NPR, BBC, Time, and elsewhere. He has testified before the U.S. House Oversight Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, the National Vaccine Advisory Committee, and the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. He is a member of the State of Connecticut Governor's COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group, The Lancet Commission on Vaccine Acceptance in the United States, and the New England Comparative Effectiveness Public Advisory Council for the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER).

Prior to arriving at Yale, Schwartz was the Harold T. Shapiro Fellow at the Princeton University Center for Human Values, and earlier, an Associate Fellow and Lecturer in the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. He was also a staff member for President Barack Obama's Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, where he was a lead staff author of the Commission's 2010 report on synthetic biology and emerging technologies and a contributor to its 2011 investigation of U.S. Public Health Service-led STD research in Guatemala in the 1940s.

Schwartz is a graduate of Princeton University, where he received an A.B. in classics, and the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a Ph.D. in the history and sociology of science and a master's degree (MBE) in bioethics.

Global Health Program