Mandatory immunizations have been a thing in the U.S. for over 100 years. Why are we still debating the issue?
I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up I was taught that the law was the law and that those laws should not be broken.
But now that I’m very grown up, I’ve learned that the law is not really an etched in stone thing; it’s more like an opinion. And based on who you are, what your background is and, in the case of federal judges, including Supreme Court justices, who appointed you, you can kind of justify anything and call it “the law.”
The latest example of this is regarding “vaccine mandates” and a ruling from a federal judge in Texas (shocking!) who, according to the press reports, issued a preliminary injunction on Friday blocking the White House from requiring federal workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus,
Interestingly, the ruling came months after the mandate’s November 22 deadline when, according to the White House, more than 95 percent of federal workers were already in compliance. As of this writing, the administration announced that 98 percent of federal workers are vaccinated or have sought medical or religious exemptions. So I guess this judge’s ruling is more a personal statement than something that has any real impact. Just saying.
The judge, U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey Vincent Brown, nominated in 2019 to the federal bench by President Donald Trump (“I’m shocked, shocked that Trump would nominate such a man!”)* said that the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for federal workers and contractors constituted an overreach of executive authority.
*(With apologies to Claude Rains/Captain Louis Renault and the entire cast and crew of “Casablanca”)
According to the Times, Judge Brown said his ruling was not about whether people should get vaccinated against coronavirus. He wrote that “…the court believes they should. It is instead about whether the president can, with the stroke of a pen and without the input of Congress, require millions of federal employees to undergo a medical procedure (emphasis mine) as a condition of their employment.” That, he said, was “a bridge too far.”
He went on to opine, “less invasive measures could protect public health, like masking, social distancing and remote work.” Gosh, I didn’t realize that the learned Judge Brown was also an epidemiologist in his spare time!
Perhaps it’s about time to unpack this whole “vaccine mandate thing.”
According to Pew Research,
“Many Republican governors reacted furiously when President Joe Biden said he would require employees at large businesses to either get vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing. But Republican- and Democratic-led states alike already require hundreds of thousands of their citizens – infants, toddlers and schoolchildren, mostly – to be vaccinated against a panoply of diseases. In fact, mandatory childhood immunizations have been a feature of American society since the 19th century.”
Pew goes on,
“Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends routine vaccination against 16 diseases from birth through age 18. The CDC recommendations, in turn, inform individual states’ vaccine mandates: Typically, children who haven’t received the required shots for their age can’t attend school (public, private or parochial) or enroll in child care programs, though there are exemptions for religious, medical or other reasons.”
Here’s a small sampling of some of those state mandated vaccines:
*(On a personal note, my almost 2-year old son contracted, and died from, Haemophilus influenza a year before the Hib vaccine was developed and administered.)
I could go on, but by now you should have gotten the idea: Vaccine mandates are not a device invented by the radical left. They are real and, as Pew Research points out, have been “a feature since American society since the 19th century.”
Covid-19 is a highly contagious, often fatal, virus. And yes, I know one of the arguments proffered by the right is that it was developed too quickly and that it causes all kinds of horrible things to happen – like the death of Betty White for example. Besides that and other right-wing internet falsehoods, how many people do you know have died from a Covid-19 vaccine?
The fact is vaccinations are the best way to keep this insidious disease in check. And if the president of United States, in a national emergency, cannot mandate vaccinations to protect the populous with, as Judge Brown writes, “the stroke of a pen and without the input of Congress,” what can he do?
By the way I wonder if the good judge actually thought about how funny he was when he wrote, “without the input of Congress?”
I guess I’ll leave that subject to another column.