Ethical and policy implications of vaccinomics in the United States: community members’ perspectives

Jennifer E. Gerber, Janesse Brewer, Rupali J. Limaye, Andrea Renee Sutherland, Gail Geller, Christine I. Spina, Daniel A. Salmon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: We aimed to elucidate public values regarding the use of genomics to improve vaccine development and use (vaccinomics). Methods: Adults ≥18 years-old were recruited through social media and community organizations, and randomly assigned to one of four nested discussion groups in Boulder, CO and Baltimore, MD. Participants rated their confidence in vaccine safety and effectiveness prior to and after discussing vaccinomics. Before departing, they prioritized funding for vaccinomics versus federal priorities (vaccine safety and efficacy, new vaccines, and free vaccines) and chronic diseases (cancer, heart disease, and diabetes). Grounded Theory-influenced methods were used to identify themes. Results: Participants broadly supported vaccinomics. Emergent themes: concerns about reduced privacy/confidentiality, increased genetically based stigma/discrimination, and reduced agency to make vaccine-related decisions through genetically based prioritization. Participants supported vaccinomics’ potential for increased personalization. Some participants favored prioritizing others over themselves during a vaccine shortage, while others did not. Some participants worried health insurance companies would discriminate against them based on information discovered through vaccinomics. Participants feared inequitable implementation of vaccinomics would contribute to discrimination and marginalization of vulnerable populations. Discussing vaccinomics did not impact perceptions of vaccine safety and effectiveness. Federal funding for vaccinomics was broadly supported. Conclusion: Participants supported vaccinomics’ potential for increased personalization, noting policy safeguards to facilitate equitable implementation and protect privacy were needed. Despite some concerns, participants hoped vaccinomics would improve vaccine safety and effectiveness. Policies regarding vaccinomics’ implementation must address public concerns about the privacy and confidentiality of genetic information and potential inequities in access to vaccinomics’ benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2133-2144
Number of pages12
JournalHuman Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2021


  • Genomics
  • Infectious disease
  • Vacccinomics
  • Vaccines
  • Values

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology


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