The US Supreme Court’s current ruling on vaccine mandates harkens back to a long-running pandemic that had ravaged the country. As smallpox cases grew beyond control, a public health emergency was declared in Boston. This occurred at the beginning of the 20th century. Boston was the US’s main financial center and the outbreak threatened America’s economy.
People were still questioning the science behind the smallpox vaccine. They also resisted immunization mandates. This led to a court case being argued before the US Supreme Court. The Fuller Court, named after Chief Justice Melville Fuller, ruled that the state mandate was not in violation of the 14th amendment. It also ruled that the state had the right to require vaccinations to protect public health. The plaintiff was a pastor from Sweden who was required to pay the $5 fine. If it were levied today, it would have been approximately $150.
That was the end of the last major smallpox epidemic in the country.
We are once again under the threat of a pandemic, 116 years later. In its second year, more infectious variants have emerged. Although the latest surge in cases is now under control, it has not stopped — numbers are slowly increasing again.
The science of vaccines has advanced by leaps, and we now have three effective and safe vaccines. They are now free to everyone who is eligible. We are currently involved in a national debate over the legality and legality of vaccine mandates. The debates revolve around personal freedom and our responsibilities as citizens to one another, and the government’s duty to protect the public’s health.
This history is important to keep in mind.
“The freedom guaranteed by the Constitution of America does not confer an absolute right on every person to be at any time and in all circumstances wholly free from restraint; nor is it an element of such liberty that one individual or a minority of persons residing within a community and enjoying the benefits its local government should have the power to rule the majority when they are supported in their actions by the State.”
For its decisions that were embraced today by progressives, the Fuller Court wasn’t well-known. Plessy v Ferguson is perhaps the most famous decision. It upheld the South’s system of racial segregation. Other cases also eliminated the federal income tax and reduced regulations regarding working conditions. The Fuller Court in Jacobson v Massachusetts recognized the legality and importance of vaccine mandates.
High immunization coverage is crucial to epidemic control in the fight against highly infectious viruses such as smallpox or SARS-CoV-2. An epidemic is a situation in which a virus infects thousands, or in this case millions, of people. As we see in low-vaccine-coverage areas, hospitals will continue to be overcrowded with unvaccinated people. As they are in certain states, ICU beds may become more scarce. More Americans will suffer and more people will die from preventable causes. Currently, there are 1,100.
The economic impact of the ongoing epidemic on the country’s businesses is still severe and unprecedented. Non-medical preventive measures like social distancing and indoor mask-wearing are important but increasing vaccine coverage is the only way for us to avoid another winter of suffering.
In its 1905 decision, Supreme Court clarified that the freedom we have in this country doesn’t give us the right in every circumstance to harm others. Personal decisions that endanger the health or well-being of others are one example of such circumstances. Like smallpox and other forms of smallpox, COVID-19 is invisible, colorless, and more contagious than the latter. Talking, eating and singing are all major ways of transmitting the virus. It is difficult to identify who is infected and who to avoid. The only way to control the disease is through universal vaccination and masking. Even then, it is unlikely that there will be complete elimination. However, our society and economy can recover fully.
Over 760,000 American lives have been claimed by COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to be extremely safe and effective. They were developed using existing technologies, which were then tested and harnessed as soon as funding was available from the federal government. We can now see the effects of the virus in unvaccinated areas one year later.
Vaccine mandates follow the best science and are our best hope of controlling the disease. It is time for us to acknowledge our mutual responsibility to protect our children, elderly, and neighbors from diseases — and to accept the emphasis our government places upon this obligation.
This post was written by a medical professional at The Wellness Firm. The Wellness Firm services include workplace flu clinics, flu vaccinations, onsite rapid corporate employee Covid testing, the physical exam for employment, as well as American Heart Association CPR certification classes. Founded by local Firemen, The Wellness Firm has been providing a safer Tampa Bay since 2006.