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Anti-vaccine activists use Holocaust tropes to discredit mandates

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

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

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.

Read More »Vaccine mandates court decisions – Indiana University and Los Angeles Unified School District
Indiana University vaccine mandate

Indiana University vaccine mandate upheld by Federal court

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

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. 

Read More »COVID vaccine mandate lawsuit filed in Texas by Methodist Hospital employees
Connecticut repeals vaccine religious exemption

Connecticut repeals vaccine religious exemption to school mandates

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.
Read More »Connecticut repeals vaccine religious exemption to school mandates
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Employer vaccine mandates for COVID-19 – a legal and ethical discussion

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.

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COVID-19 vaccines employer mandates

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

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.

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School vaccine mandates do not illegally discriminate – Prof. Dorit Reiss

Anti-vaccine activists have repeatedly claimed that statutes abolishing non-medical exemptions from school vaccine mandates are discriminatory. Some went as far as to compare it to segregation. Courts in California and New York, echoing years of jurisprudence, rejected these claims in recent years in no uncertain claims, making it clear that school mandates are not discriminatory.Read More »School vaccine mandates do not illegally discriminate – Prof. Dorit Reiss