Former US surgeon general Dr Jerome Adams has come under fire to suggesting he was "uncomfortable" with coronavirus vaccine incentives that include offering alcohol to individuals who have taken the shot.
The doctor – who served under the Trump administration – questioned Joe Biden's decision to embrace an offer from Anheuser-Busch offering beer giveaways to adults if 70 per cent of US adults are vaccinated by 4 July.
"Do public health advocates who've tried to raise the alarm about the health complications of increasing alcohol consumption really not have a problem with a federally sanctioned beer giveaway?" Dr. Adams asked on Twitter Tuesday.
No one is forced to take the beer, nor is it open to everyone. The individuals who want the beer would have to enter what is essentially a drawing in order to receive the drinks.
"I'm all for incentives/rewards, and I'm not against people making personal choices to drink, but even the current Surgeon General put out a report warning about the health effects of alcohol consumption. Donuts, gambling (lottery tickets)… Are cigarettes next? Just me?" Dr. Adams asked.
The doctor was referring to other vaccine promotions, like Krispy Kreme Donuts offering a single glazed donut for a year to anyone who shows they have been vaccinated, and the Vaxamillion lottery offered in Ohio.
He said he felt the need to speak out because the incentives were beginning to make him "uncomfortable”.
"I'm just really starting to get uncomfortable with the public health trade offs here," he wrote. "And the messages we're subtly sending our youth. Is it really worth it?"
The former health official was met with a mixture of responses on social media, with some people questioning his sudden decision to speak up about public health after largely staying quiet during the Trump administration and its botched handling of the pandemic.
Others agreed with his concerns.
Dr Adams defended himself on Twitter, explaining that he had personal history with family members who had substance abuse problems.
“Not only am I physician with expertise in substance misuse, but I also have an extensive family history with it. Those saying it’s just one drink or who dismiss the significance of the leader of the free world doing a beer commercial don’t understand the scientific concerns,” he wrote.
He said that every alcoholic begins with “just one drink”.
“Every relapse begins with ‘just one,’” he said. “And for every youth who is predisposed, there’s a big difference between a business supporting this type of incentive and the President of the United States saying get a shot and a beer.”
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