European Court of Human Rights upholds compulsory vaccination laws

compulsory vaccination laws

This article the European Court of Human Rights upholding compulsory vaccination laws was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

On April 8, 2021 the European Court of Human Rights, in a 16:1 decision, held that the Czech’s Republic vaccine mandate did not violate article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the “right to respect for private life”, because the mandate is within the range of reasonable options available to a country to protect the important interests of the general health and children’s best interests, and its interference with individual rights is proportional. 

This is an important decision, since it gives states leeway to enact mandatory vaccination schemes, within certain limits. The quotes here are from the summary, which, from my skimming of the full decision, captures the majority’s decision well. 

Continue reading “European Court of Human Rights upholds compulsory vaccination laws”

Legal challenges to stricter school vaccine mandates rejected by NY court

school vaccine mandates

This article challenges to stricter school vaccine mandates was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

On December 3, 2019, Judge Denise Hartman, from the New York Supreme Court in Albany (see Note 1), rejected a claim challenging the removal of the religious exemption from school vaccine mandates.

Judge Hartman has previously, in a careful decision upheld on appeal, rejected plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction on stricter school vaccine mandates. In this decision, she provided a well-reasoned, thoughtful analysis of the constitutional issues.

Judge Hartman found that the change in the law in New York was based on public health, not hostility to religion, and fits well within the extensive precedent upholding mandates without requiring a religious exemption.

This lawsuit was the strongest, best-argued challenge to the New York law on religious freedom grounds. Unless plaintiffs appeal, this is likely the end for any serious chance opponents had at overturning the law, and even on appeal, their chances are likely low.

Continue reading “Legal challenges to stricter school vaccine mandates rejected by NY court”

COVID-19 vaccine mandate challenge from a corrections officer

COVID-19 vaccine mandae

This article about a challenge to a COVID-19 vaccine mandate was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

In late February, a lawsuit challenging an employment mandate, that county officers in New Mexico receive a COVID-19 vaccine, was filed in a district federal court. Although there is some uncertainty on whether an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) vaccine mandate is legal, this lawsuit is not well-founded, and the county’s response very well-argued. Hopefully, the court will reject this claim.

Continue reading “COVID-19 vaccine mandate challenge from a corrections officer”

Employer vaccine mandates for COVID-19 – a legal and ethical discussion

pexels-photo-5922067.jpeg

A recent article about employer COVID-19 vaccine mandates, by Professors Dorit Rubinstein Reiss and Arthur Caplan, examined its legal and ethical issues. Their thought-provoking analysis should be part of our discussions about the new vaccines.

I think that employer vaccine mandates, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic, are something that should be considered everywhere. However, employer mandates are very controversial, with ten states already considering prohibitions to them.

I am going to excerpt some of their points in the article while adding my own thoughts on the topic. I think this is worthy of a wide discussion.

Continue reading “Employer vaccine mandates for COVID-19 – a legal and ethical discussion”

Tiffany Dover is still alive after getting COVID-19 vaccine – still harassed by anti-vaxxers

This article about the anti-vaxxer harassment of Tiffany Dover was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

For several weeks, anti-vaccine activists from all around the world have targeted a nurse from Tennessee, Tiffany Dover, stalking and harassing her, her employer, and her family. This post describes the kind of behavior Tiffany Dover was subjected to, offers some steps people in that situation can take, and points to the features of social media that make this kind of targeted harassment possible.

Ms. Dover was not the only – or even the worst – case of this kind of sustained harassment in the past years. The worst is probably the extensive, ugly, horrible targeting of the families who lost children in the Sandy Hook shooting. 

This kind of behavior is highly problematic and needs a response.

Continue reading “Tiffany Dover is still alive after getting COVID-19 vaccine – still harassed by anti-vaxxers”

ICAN claims win because CDC reformatted Vaccines and Autism page

ICAN claims win

This article about how ICAN claims a win as a result of the CDC reformatting its Vaccines and Autism page was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

On January 21, 2021, the anti-vaccine organization Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN) published an article titled “The CDC Finally Capitulated To ICAN’s Legal Demands and Removed the Claim that “Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism” From Its Website!”.

The article is even less convincing than ICAN’s usual claims, because the CDC’s Vaccines and Autism page still, essentially, states there is no link between vaccines and autism, and that vaccines do not cause autism. The CDC just changed its title and reformatted it – probably for reasons that have nothing to do with ICAN.

I am going to review why ICAN claims a win, and why it really isn’t – the CDC hasn’t changed its view on autism and vaccines.

Continue reading “ICAN claims win because CDC reformatted Vaccines and Autism page”

COVID-19 vaccines employer mandates – legal basics for and against

COVID-19 vaccines employer mandates

This article about COVID-19 vaccines employer mandates was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

The goal of this post is to give a short overview of the law surrounding employer mandates for COVID-19 vaccines. Two caveats. First, this post is not taking a position on whether a mandate is a good or bad idea for a specific employer: it is just setting out the law. Second, this post is focused on employers choosing to require vaccines, not states.

As preliminary comments, I want to remind readers that we do not actually know whether COVID-19 vaccines will dramatically reduce transmission. We know they are very effective at protecting recipients (and very safe), and we have reasonable grounds to expect they will reduce transmission somewhat, but we do not yet know to what extent. 

A workplace or employer mandate is, in part, justified by protecting the workforce – employers are expected, sometimes required, to minimize risks to their workers, and may be liable for work-related harms through workers’ compensation, but mandates are often justified by the protection of others – in this case, co-workers and customers – and if the vaccines do not reduce transmission, there is less justification.

We also do not yet know how long the COVID-19 vaccines’ immunity will last, and whether there are very rare side effects that have not yet been discovered. So this discussion has some uncertainty built-in. That uncertainty, however, would not directly change much of the legal framework described below.

Continue reading “COVID-19 vaccines employer mandates – legal basics for and against”

Massachusetts influenza vaccine mandate withdrawn – an analysis

Massachusetts influenza vaccine mandate

This article about why Massachusetts withdrew its influenza vaccine mandate for children was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

On August 19, 2020, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced that the influenza vaccine will be required from all children “6 months of age or older who are attending Massachusetts child care, pre-school, kindergarten, K-12, and colleges and universities.”

The requirement was only for children attending in-person (not online) education and had a deadline of December 31, 2020. A lawsuit was filed against the mandate, apparently, according to the anti-vaccine organization Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN), funded by that organization, and brought by the law firm they habitually employ, Siri & Glimstad LLP (In 2019, ICAN paid the law firm $1,263,432 for “legal services” out of over $3.4 million the organization took in as income, according to their 990 filings).

After the Massachusetts Department of Public Health pushed off that deadline to February, they decided to withdraw the influenza vaccine mandate on January 15, 2021.

The Public Health Department explains in a letter:

Preliminary data show that this has been a mild flu season to date, presumably as people have received their seasonal flu vaccine and have been adhering to mask-wearing and social distancing due to COVID-19. Given the intensive Commonwealth-wide efforts regarding COVID-19 vaccination, DPH wants to alleviate the burden to obtain flu vaccination and focus on continuing our COVID -19 vaccination efforts. DPH continues to strongly recommend that everyone age six months and older receive their seasonal flu vaccine each year.

ICAN is celebrating this as a victory of their lawsuit. We do not know which other considerations went into the decision, and the lawsuit may have had an effect, if only by adding to the already full plate of the department during a pandemic.

But the reality is that given the jurisprudence on vaccine mandates, and given the deference most courts show public health authorities during a pandemic, if there were good grounds to insist on the mandate, the department would likely have held its grounds. A number of other factors likely fed into the decision, including, as pointed out, a relatively mild flu season (in part thanks to public health measures against COVID-19), Massachusetts stated desire to bring children back to in-person education, which may have led the department to seek to remove barriers, and the need to focus on the COVID-19 vaccine effort.

Plus, it is mid-January. The benefit of being distracted by a fight over an influenza mandate this late is probably less than the harm to other important efforts.

2020 top 10 articles – not all about vaccines and COVID-19

2020 top 10 list

It’s that time of the year, the top 10 articles of 2020 on the Skeptical Raptor website. As years go, 2020 is quite at the level of 1939, when WWII started that killed six million Jews and over 50 million other people, or 1347, the first year of the Black Death, which eventually killed up to 200 million people.

But in my lifetime, 2020 ranks at or near the top 10 of the “years that suck” list. 

Traditionally, I repost the top 10 list of articles that I have written over the past year, but 2020 is different. The news about COVID-19, vaccines, and quack treatments have required constant writing so, I never got to do the reposts. So, I’m just going to list the 2020’s top 10 list of articles.

Please take time to read some of them, repost them if they’re interesting, and comment. It helps this website grow and gets out facts about important science and medical issues that are the target of science deniers.

Continue reading “2020 top 10 articles – not all about vaccines and COVID-19”

COVID-19 vaccine EUA prevented by hydroxychloroquine – myth busted

COVID-19 vaccine eua

This article about how “cures” should prevent a COVID-19 vaccine emergency use authorization (EUA) was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

I have seen this myth around but haven’t had a chance to respond to it, so I will do it quickly here. No, there is no conspiracy to hide the benefits of things like hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and vitamin D, and no, if they were shown effective, it would not prevent a COVID-19 vaccine EUA.

Continue reading “COVID-19 vaccine EUA prevented by hydroxychloroquine – myth busted”