My body my choice – another awful anti-vaccine trope

my body my choice

A common trope being pushed by COVID-19 vaccine deniers is “my body, my choice.” What they are saying is that they have a fundamental right to decide whether to get the COVID-19 vaccine (or any vaccine, for that matter).

Ironically, “my body, my choice” is a feminine slogan that was used in the abortion argument – it meant that it’s the woman’s body and it was her choice about abortion. Since much of the anti-vaccine movement, at least in the USA, is on the far right, I can bet most of these people would decry the pro-abortion meaning of “my body, my choice” – they don’t think women have a right to choose anything about their body. Except for vaccines, of course.

Despite their attempt to co-opt the actual meaning of “my body, my choice,” these anti-vaxxers are trying to push the narrative that there should be freedom of choice for vaccines.

But like most tropes in the anti-vax world, this one is a solid no – it does not make sense.

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Vaccine mandate history – USA owes its existence to one

snow wood landscape vacation

The American vaccine mandate history goes all the way back to the American Revolutionary War when General George Washington ordered smallpox vaccinations for all soldiers in 1777. I bet most people don’t know the history of the vaccine mandate, but I was amazed to read how far back it went in US history.

However, vaccine mandates history includes a lot of other events that tell us that not only have mandates been a part of the fabric of American history, it’s also constitutional. And I’m briefly going to cover it in this article.

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Vaccine informed consent – is it in tension with school mandates?

vaccine informed consent

This article about vaccine informed consent 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.

Several people have asked me whether having school mandates is in tension with the idea of vaccine informed consent. The answer is no. While school mandates have some effect on parental autonomy, the doctrine of informed consent should not be conflated with autonomy.

For a somewhat different reason, imposing sanctions on those who do not vaccinate is also not a violation of informed consent.

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Vaccine mandates for those with previous COVID infection – policy debate

people woman government health

This article about vaccine mandates for anyone with a previous COVID-19 infection 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 this post, I set out the debates around allowing those with a previous COVID-19 infection to be exempt from U.S. vaccine mandates. 

A quick reminder– the virus is SARS-CoV-2, while the infection with the virus causes the disease, COVID-19 (or just COVID). 

The policy takeaway point is that while, in my view, the choice to allow those with a previous COVID infection an exemption from vaccine mandates can be reasonable, the choice not to allow an exemption also has very good policy reasons behind it.

Since it is a valid policy choice, mandates without such an exemption cannot, in my view, be legally challenged. Those wanting their institution to exempt them because of natural immunity need to convince their institution to do so, and if the institution refuses, do not have viable legal recourse. Under our current law – rightly – in uncertainty, the policymakers have the flexibility to choose the option they think is safer.

I am not a scientist, and I think this is an area of substantial scientific uncertainty. But I have to start by setting out some background, and I will try to summarize what I think we do and do not know.

I will add that my thoughts on this have developed. When I came into this topic, I thought a previous infection should be grounds for exemption. Now, I think there’s an argument both ways, and in fact, the argument against an exemption for the previously infected is stronger – though an institution would still be on solid grounds if it chose to give one, for policy reasons.   

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Pfizer COVID vaccine received full FDA approval – expect new mandates

pfizer COVID-19 vaccine FDA

Today, 23 August 2021, the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccine received full FDA approval for individuals 16 years and older. This should stop the claim by anti-vaxxers claimed that these vaccines were “experimental,” because they had an  Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in the USA and other countries, despite the fact that the EUAs required just as rigorous analysis as a typical New Drug Application.

Let’s examine what this Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine FDA approval means practically.

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Anti-vaccine activists use Holocaust tropes to discredit mandates

pexels-photo-5863389.jpeg

Since the anti-vaccine activists find themselves on the wrong side of vaccine mandates, they’ve decided to go a Holocaust trope to describe vaccine mandates. But they just don’t understand what they’re doing again.

Recently, as more measles outbreaks occur across the world, there is consternation in governments, schools, and public health organizations about the dropping of measles vaccination rates in some areas. As a result, states like California are trying to clamp down on medical exemption abuse, and other jurisdictions, like Rockland County, NY, have banned unvaccinated children from public spaces.

And of course, during this COVID-19 pandemic, the anti-vaccine organizations are utilizing the same false equivalencies between vaccine mandates and the Holocaust. What are they thinking?

Public officials implemented these actions to stop the spread of measles, a dangerous, and frequently, deadly disease. As you can imagine, the anti-vaccine religion has been whining and screaming about everything from their individual rights to some cynical conspiracy theory about something or another ever since “mandatory” vaccines became important to public health officials to reduce the spread of the disease.

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Vaccine mandates court decisions – Indiana University and Los Angeles Unified School District

vaccine mandates court

This article about two court decisions regarding 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.

There is a lot going on on the vaccine mandates front. This post describes two recent court decisions – a panel of the Seventh Circuit refused to put Indiana’s University vaccine mandate on hold, in a decision that does not bode well for the students’ case. And a California federal district court decision dismissing a case against an alleged (you’ll see why alleged below) school educators mandate, that by implication upholds the “soft” mandate New York and California have recently adopted.

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Indiana University vaccine mandate upheld by Federal court

Indiana University vaccine mandate

This article about the Indiana University 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.

On June 21, 2021, eight students, represented by attorney James Bopp Jr., filed a complaint challenging the Indiana University vaccine mandate. On July 18, 2021, Judge Damon R. Leichty, from the federal district court for the Northern District of Indiana, appointed to the court by President Donald Trump, rejected the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction in a lengthy, thoughtful decision that made it clear the plaintiffs’ chances of success on the merits are very low.

The decision is important in setting the standard for reviewing constitutional claims against university mandates, in making it clear that a reasonable university mandate has a good chance to be upheld, but that public health authorities – or universities – do not have carte blanche to impose any requirements they want, but can legitimately act to prevent disease and improve safety. It thoroughly and intelligently addresses the scientific claims of the plaintiffs – and the approach to them. It examines the difference between a general challenge and a challenge based on a fundamental right like freedom of religion.

It does not substantially add to the discussion of whether universities can mandate a vaccine under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA); though it does address the facts of the EUA, it does not go into the legal arguments about the EUA law that were addressed in a decision against a Texas hospital. Nor does it directly confront the Indiana passport law,  likely because the university changed in mandate in a way that, according to the attorney general, did not clash with it.

Finally, the decision was 101 pages. I cannot summarize all of it in a reasonable-length post, so this has to be a short summary of what I think are the main points. But it’s worth reading. There is a lot of thoughtful, in-depth analysis in it I just don’t have space for. 

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COVID vaccine mandate lawsuit filed in Texas by Methodist Hospital employees

pexels-photo-6074971.jpeg

This article about the employee lawsuit against the Texas Methodist Hospital COVID 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 June 2021, employees of Methodist Hospital filed a lawsuit in a Texas court challenging the hospital’s decision to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine. Although the lawsuit does raise one issue of legal uncertainty – whether you can mandate a vaccine under an  Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) – its claim there is weak, and its other claims are a combination of incorrect factual claims and implausible legal claims.

The suit should have little chance of success – but because of the timing, this may be the first legal decision we have on the question of mandating EUA vaccines. The hospital’s mandate has a deadline of June 7, 2021. It seems like most of the plaintiffs – as far as I can tell from the complaint – have already been dismissed, so the deadline may not require fast handling, but the fact that there is a very near deadline may affect scheduling. 

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Connecticut repeals vaccine religious exemption to school mandates

Connecticut repeals vaccine religious exemption

This article, the Connecticut legislature repeals the vaccine religious exemption for school 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 April 27, 2021, the Connecticut legislature passed HB6423, a bill that repeals the religious exemption to Connecticut’s school vaccine mandate. Connecticut never had a personal belief exemption, so if the Governor signed it – and he indicated he will – the only exemption available in Connecticut will be a medical one. 

That said, as part of the compromises to pass the bill, children currently in school, from kindergarten on, were grandfathered – allowed to keep the exemption.

This post addresses, together, three things:

  • First, the process to pass a bill in most states is hard and arduous, and most bills fail. 
  • Second, the anti-vaccine movement fought aggressively against the bill, and the fight was national.
  • And third, what the bill does.
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