(Toronto) Executives who go to get vaccinated abroad show both an ethical disregard for the less fortunate and a surprising lack of business acumen, experts say.
The President and CEO of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Mark Machin, resigned on Friday after admitting to traveling to Dubai to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
“Damage to reputation, such as the lasting scar of being caught, denounced, vilified in the public square for having vaccine tourism, will persist,” predicts Wojtek Dabrowski, an associate director of Provident Communications.
He said Machin, once a highly respected fund manager, will not find a new job anytime soon, as most companies will be loath to have their name associated with his.
“One has to wonder what type of organization would take a leader who would pull such a ball,” adds Mr. Dabrowski.
Going abroad to receive a COVID-19 vaccine also raises questions about the culture an executive has implanted in his company.
“The responsibility of a company ends in the CEO’s office,” says Dabrowski. Whether it is about the results of the company, the culture, the modeling of the behavior that we want to implement in the organization. ”
According to him, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board should get away with its reputation because Machin was quickly forced to leave his post.
But if a company is not well known or popular and does not act quickly to rectify the situation, the actions of its leaders could have wider repercussions, says Dabrowski.
Some states have started cracking down on vaccine tourism, not wanting to be associated with this practice.
In January, Florida changed its rules to prevent non-residents from coming in and out to get vaccinated. Authorities require vaccine applicants to provide proof of at least part-time residency.
Bioethicist Kerry Bowman says he was shocked to learn that a prominent figure had traveled overseas to be vaccinated against COVID-19. He recalls the fury unleashed at the end of December against politicians who went abroad ignoring public health recommendations.
“We really cut the queue when the elderly have not even received their first dose,” he laments.
Mr Bowman also fears that vaccine tourism will erode confidence in a health care system that should ideally treat everyone the same.
“It fuels what a lot of people already know: People with privileges and connections are going to find a way to bypass the system. ”
The phenomenon differs from other forms of medical tourism in which people cross the border to gain faster access to treatment.
“If you go overseas for surgery, the social justice side effects are very different,” Bowman said, while agreeing that the pandemic made every situation more complicated.
“If a person comes back from overseas after being vaccinated, their immune system won’t get stronger for a few weeks. It remains a health risk. ”
Mr Bowman argues that the costs of such tourism far outweigh the benefits.
“Some will say that vaccination tourism only lightens the system and that is not serious. But, fairness is very, very important. ”