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 diseases. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.
On June 12, 2021 (yes, a Saturday), a Texas federal district judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by employees of the Houston Methodist Hospital against the hospital’s COVID vaccine mandate which required employees to be vaccinated unless they qualify for a medical or religious exemption.
I wrote about the lawsuit here. It is a badly argued lawsuit, with multiple extreme claims, and it does a bad job in setting out the one somewhat plausible argument it has, the argument that you cannot mandate a vaccine under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
Another day, another mass shooting in the USA. Gun control and vaccines should be public health issues, but they aren’t. In fact, anti-vaccine and anti-gun control activists seem to show a huge overlap in the Venn diagram of being opposed to the health of children. They both make the same excuses and the same lies.
Gun control should be a public health issue no different than what we do with vaccines. The CDC should be posting rules to reduce gun violence as much as they do to reduce deaths from COVID-19 by pushing vaccines.
But here’s what’s going to happen. After 19 children and two adults were killed at an elementary school in Texas, a state which thinks all guns are good, politicians will express their useless “thoughts and prayers,” and in a few days, all will be forgotten. If 19 children and two adults had died of COVID-19, we’d try to fix it. If 19 children and two adults had died in a school bus crash, we’d try to fix it. But gun violence? There seems to be no willpower among the political elite to do anything, especially in our nation of minority rule.
What some of the anti-gun control people are saying is that the risk of dying from a gun is so small, that gun control is outweighed by the benefits of owning guns. I’ve heard this logic before, and it’s from the anti-vaccine zealots. They argue that because only a few children will die of measles (or any vaccine-preventable disease), vaccines should not be mandated.
Yes, the chances of dying from measles are rare (thanks to vaccines). Yes, the chances of one person dying in a mass murder are small. The problem with the logic of the anti-vaccine and anti-gun control activists is the same — we have the power to prevent both. And we should prevent both. Our public health advocates should be on the side of vaccines and gun control.
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.
We have seen a lot of anti-science activities at the Federal government level that are scary. Massive reductions in Federal budgets for the EPA and National Institutes of Health are bad enough for those of us who support science research and education. But the emboldened right wing, at the state level, are pushing all types of anti-science legislation that will have a profound effect on how we teach science to our children. We need to pay attention to this.
I thought it would be beneficial for us to take a look at the states that are pushing anti-science legislation since the November 2016 election, when a lot of state legislatures’ composition changed (or remained the same). In general, this legislation focuses on anti-evolution and anti-climate change beliefs pushed by the right wing.
The goal of this overview is to tell you about vaccine lawsuits in the federal and state courts (but not in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program). As an overview, the discussion of each case will be very short. If you want more information, please let me know in the comments section. If you know of cases I have missed, also mention that in the comments.
The vaccine lawsuits overview is arranged by topic, and without topic by states, and within states in alphabetical order. I have chosen August 1, 2016 as a starting point to keep this manageable.
Note that the “claims” section provides a summary of what a complaint is claiming – what it is trying to do – and not an analysis of the claims’ validity. Where available, I link to a post discussing the claim’s merits more in detail. Where not, I add some comments about the validity. But the claims section just provides what the plaintiffs are claiming – it doesn’t mean their claims, hold water. Continue reading “Vaccine lawsuits – overview of litigation across the USA”
In January 2012 Andrew Wakefield, a British citizen residing in Texas, sued Brian Deer, a British journalist, the British Medical Journal (BMJ), and Dr. Fiona Godlee, the British editor of BMJ, in a Texas trial Court for libel. Wakefield claimed that a series of articles titled “Secrets of the MMR Scare” written by Brian Deer, edited by Fiona Godlee and published in the BMJ were defamatory. The articles detailed serious scientific misconduct by Andrew Wakefield.
The decision itself is focused on issues of civil procedure that may be less of interest to non-lawyers, though these issues are crucially important to litigants and lawyers. But this story is a good demonstration of strategic use of litigation by Andrew Wakefield and an opportunity to discuss the advantages and potential problems of that approach. Continue reading “Litigating as “debate” tactic? Wakefield appeal was denied”
This article has been updated, and you can read it here. The comments section to this article have been closed, but you can comment at the newer version.
A few days ago, I wrote an article discussing how antivaccination trope inventors could not understand the most basic elements of mathematics in reading a vaccine label. They misinterpreted some simple math like that the toxic level of a substance is several million times higher than what is injected. I suppose in the minds of vaccine deniers, 1=1 billion. Or 1 trillion. Or 4783.2226. It just depends.
And if they can’t understand the simplest of math principles, assuming that they would understand population level statistics might be a really bad assumption.
According to the City of Austin, Texas Department of Health and Human Services, an infant hospitalized with whooping cough (Bordetella pertussis) died recently in hospital. The infant, who was too young to receive the first pertussis vaccine (DTaP or Tdap), was one of 41 confirmed or probably cases of whooping cough in the city of Austin.
An infant cannot be vaccinated with DTaP (the vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) until they are about 2 months old. However, because infants are susceptible to whooping cough, all adults, children, friends, relatives, everyone, who is in contact with that child should be vaccinated against pertussis, a process called cocooning.
“This is a sad and tragic event,” said Dr. Philip Huang, Medical Director for Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services. “Because the disease can make babies so sick, and they can catch it from anyone around them, they need protection.”
The Austin Department of Health and Human Services provided the following advice, based on CDC recommendations, to help protect babies from whooping cough:
If you are pregnant, get vaccinated in your third trimester.
Surround your baby with vaccinated family members and caregivers.
Make sure your baby gets all doses of whooping cough vaccine according to CDC’s recommended schedule.
If you or your child experience cold-like symptoms that develop into a severe cough after 1 to 2 weeks contact your healthcare provider immediately.
No child, no infant, should die of a vaccine preventable disease like whooping cough. And to those of you in the antivaccination “movement” who think that these diseases aren’t that dangerous–think again. These diseases kill.