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It’s time to make vaccinations mandatory

Massachusetts did this in 1902, and the Supreme Court upheld the decision. We cannot let people die because of a perceived right.

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An EMT delivers a COVID-19 vaccination to a woman in Spanish Fork.

Patty E. Davis receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from Ben Christensen, an advanced EMT volunteering from the Mapleton fire department, at a vaccination site run by the Utah County Health Department in Spanish Fork on March 25.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

America’s public health situation today is much like that of medieval China around 1000 C.E. Then, smallpox had shifted to being a pediatric problem. So many adults had either died or had survived with immunity, the virus had to direct its attention almost exclusively to children. 

The big difference, of course, is that we know both the cause and the preventative solution today, whereas the Chinese had neither. Are we content to be like the benighted Chinese and watch while our children suffer like our adults have? 

In 1902 the state of Massachusetts required mandatory vaccination of all residents, and the nation’s Supreme Court upheld that approach, saying, “the rights of the individual in respect of his liberty may at times, under the pressure of great dangers, be subjected to such restraint.” 

Schools and universities in most places require DPT, MMR, polio, chickenpox, Hep B, pneumonia, and flu shots. Today, federal, state and city government workers, health care workers, child care workers, passport travelers and soldiers already have or are returning to vaccine mandates. It’s time to do what Massachusetts did and act in the public interest state by state, instead of trumpeting a private right to infect and kill other people for no good reason. 

Kimball Shinkoskey 

Woods Cross