Here’s something you probably didn’t learn in school:  During the revolutionary war General George Washington ordered his troops to be vaccinated against smallpox.  Apparently, he was more concerned at the time about the health of his troops than red coats.  According to Science Reference service:

“On the 6th of January 1777, George Washington wrote to Dr. William Shippen Jr., ordering him to inoculate all of the forces that came through Philadelphia. He explained that: “Necessity not only authorizes but seems to require the measure, for should the disorder infect the Army . . . we should have more to dread from it, than from the Sword of the Enemy.”

Yesterday the Supreme Court opined that the federal government did not have the authority through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to mandate vaccines for employees of large businesses.  It did, however, rule that health care providers that accepted Medicaid or Medicare could indeed require vaccinations.   In 1777 there was no U.S. Supreme Court, so apparently General Washington was the law when it came to mandatory vaccinations.  From this we can conclude:  OSHA is not as powerful as George the Vaxer.

Pundits are handwringing over what this means for the authority of the federal government to regulate workplace safety.  The Supremes apparently felt that requirements like this should be left up to the states or individual businesses.  Has this left OSHA toothless?  Could be.  Unless Congress passes legislation strengthening the agency’s authority, this ruling could be the slippery slope that guts any federal authority to regulate workplace safety.  Congressional legislation?  Good luck with that! 

1 Comment

  1. A simple google search on “previous vaccine mandates” reveals the following from the PEW Research Center:

    Of the 16 immunizations the CDC recommends for children and teens, all 50 states (plus the District of Columbia) mandate diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, measles, rubella and chickenpox. In addition, every state except Iowa mandates immunization against mumps. (The diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccines usually are given as a single combined shot, as are the measles, mumps and rubella vaccines.) Except for the chickenpox vaccine, which became available in the United States in 1995, all those vaccines have been around for 50 years or more.

    During the Eisenhower and Nixon administrations, did we hear crazy rumors, bizarre alien stories and complete fabrications about these Vaccines? I’m sure there was concern, vaccines were new. Today, millions of doses have been given and years of safety research has been done.


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