Compulsory Immunization Protects Against Infection: What Law and Society Can Do

Maxwell J. Mehlman, Michael M. Lederman

Abstract


Since their broad implementation, immunizations have decreased morbidity and mortality due to a number of serious infectious diseases. In recent years, exaggerated concerns about the safety of immunizations have resulted in decreased immunization coverage in many regions and epidemic outbreaks of serious transmissible diseases – most particularly measles. This commentary reviews the legal justification for compulsory immunization and the ethical justification for civil incentives to assure compliance with immunization practices.

The concept that host defenses could be mobilized to protect against serious infectious disease was recognized in China and practiced by variolation as early as the 15th century, wherein intramucosal and later intradermal inoculation of fluid from smallpox (variola) pustules would produce a relatively milder infection that would protect against the more severe naturally acquired infection. Nonetheless, infection induced by variolation could be severe, and this practice was replaced by the work of Edward Jenner in the 1800s who, at the end of the 18th century, showed that intradermal inoculation using a related pox virus–cowpox (vaccinia) that typically produced only local inflammation after intradermal inoculation also protected against smallpox infection but with a much lower risk of morbid consequences than was seen after variolation with smallpox virus.

Since then, principles of immunization (somewhat loosely called “vaccination”) have been applied to the development of numerous “vaccines” to prevent a variety of transmissible viral and bacterial infections. As a result of these practices, smallpox has been eradicated and other life-threatening transmissible infections like polio, measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, and rabies are diminishing in many parts of the world, and morbid complications of infections like tetanus are preventable.


Full Text:

HTML PDF

References


1. Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 US 11 (1905).

2. Zucht v. King, 260 U.S. 174 (1922).

3. http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/school-immunization-exemption-state-laws.aspx .

4. Sandstrom A. Most States Allow Religious Exemptions from Child Abuse and Neglect Laws, Aug. 12, 2016. Available from: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/08/12/most-states-allow-religious-exemptions-from-child-abuse-and-neglect-laws/ .

5. Food and Drug Administration. First FDA-approved vaccine for the prevention of Ebola virus disease, marking a critical milestone in public health preparedness and response

2019. Available from: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/first-fda-approved-vaccine-prevention-ebola-virus-disease-marking-critical-milestone-public-health .

6. Klapdor M, Grove A. "No Jab No Pay" and Other Immunisation Measures, Parliament of Australia [May 8, 2019]. Available from: https://www.aph.gov.au/about_parliament/parliamentary_departments/parliamentary_library/pubs/rp/budgetreview201516/vaccination

7. Balkissoon D. No vaccines, no public school: is it time for Canada to emulate France? Globe and Mail 2017. Available from: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/no-vaccines-no-public-school-is-it-time-for-canada-to-emulate-france/article35575459/ .

8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [Sept. 12, 2019]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/acip-recs/general-recs/contraindications.html .

9. Brown v. Stone, 378 So.2d 218 (Miss. Sup. Ct. 1979).

10. Wright v. DeWitt School Dist. No.1 of Arkansas County, 238 Ark. 906 (Ark. Sup. Ct. 1965).

11. Boone v. Boozman, 217 F. Supp. 2d 938 (E.D. Ark. 2002).

12. Sherr v. Northport-East Northport Union Free School District, 672 F. Supp. 81 (E.D. NY. 1987).

13. Dalli v. Board of Educ., 267 N.E. 2d 219 (Mass. 1971).

14. Caviezel v. Great Neck N.Y. Public Schools, 500 Fed. Appx. 16 (unpublished, 2012 WL 4840709) (2nd Cir. 2012).

15. National Council of State Legislatures. [October 30, 2019]. Available from: http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/school-immunization-exemption-state-laws.aspx .

16. Workman v. Mingo County Board of Education, 419 Fed. Appx. 348 (4th Cir. 2011).

17. Whitlow v. California, 203 F. Supp. 3d 1079 (S.D. Cal. 2016).

18. Gostin LD, Ratzan SC, Bloom BR. Safe vaccinations for a healthy nation: increasing US vaccine coverage through law, science, and communication. JAMA. 2019;321(20):1969-70.

19. Tyson P. NOVA, A Short History of Quarantine PBS 2004 ( www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/short-history-of-quarantine.html ).

20. Paris F. Judge Upholds Mandatory Measles Vaccinations as New York Closes More Schools, NPR, April 19, 2019 https://www.npr.org/2019/04/19/715016284/brooklyn-judge-upholds-mandatory-vaccinations-as-new-york-city-closes-more-schools .

21. Ducharme J. New York City Is Requiring Some Residents to Get Vaccinated Against Measles. Is That Legal — And Ethical? Time, April 10, 2019 https://time.com/5567422/mandatory-vaccination-legal-ethics/ .

22. Diekema DS. Personal Belief Exemptions From School Vaccination Requirements. Annual Review of Public Health. 2014;35:275-92.

23. Pope TM, Bughman HM. Legal Briefing: Coerced Treatment and Involuntary Confinement for Contagious Disease. J Clin Ethics. 2015;26(1):73-83.

24. Smith T. Vaccine Rejection and Hesitancy: A Review and Call to Action. Open Forum Infect Dis,. 2017;4(3). Pubmed Central PMCID: PMC5597904

25. MacFarquhar N. White Extremism Faces a Subversive Foe Online: Google Ads. New York Times. 2019 December 31.

26. Karako-Eyal N. Increasing Vaccination Rates through Tort Law: Theoretical and Empirical Insights. UMKC L Rev. 2017;86:1-36.

27. Kwai I. Samoa Closes Schools as Measles Epidemic Kills at Least 16. New York Times. 2019 November 18.

28. Fine EK, Heymann D. "Herd immunity": a rough guide. J Infect Dis. 2005;191:S97-106.

29. Garnett G. Role of herd immunity in determining the effect of vaccines against sexually transmitted disease. J Infect Dis. 2005;191:S97-106.


Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.




Copyright (c) 2020 Maxwell J. Mehlman

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

© Pathogens and Immunity 2019

Case Western Reserve University; Division of Infectious Diseases

10900 Euclid Ave.; Mailstop 4984; Cleveland, OH 44106

(216) 368-6317; ISSN: 2469-2964; info@paijournal.com