Ben Shapiro on Mandatory Vaccinations 

While he may have given a talk recently entitled “Why does the Left hate science?” that many scientists might shudder at, Ben Shapiro should be commended for his long standing views supporting the mandate of vaccines. When asked on his opinion about whether the governments should require vaccines Shapiro, whose wife is a doctor if you haven’t heard,

“when it comes to measles and mumps and rubella and polio, your right to be free of vaccination — and your right to be a dope with the health of your child because you believe Jenny McCarthy’s idiocy — ends where my child’s right to live begins.”

This is somewhat of a break from the libertarian position he often has taken, especially in regards to his positions on gun control and the legalization of marijuana, where Shapiro has (mostly) argued against any government intervention. However this, in our opinion, does show Ben’s willingness to split from ideology if the facts are sufficiently justifiable to warrant so. In doing so, he is sticking to the famous quote that states “Your right to swing your arm leaves off where my right not to have my nose struck begins.”

In other words, someone is only free to practice free expression to the extent that it doesn’t affect the well being and safety of those around them. The importance of getting vaccinated isn’t just to protect yourself from others, but protect those that cannot get the vaccine from the disease. Depending on the vaccine, one may not be able to get the vaccine due to pre-existing conditions. **Check here for a list of all such vaccines and who should not take them.

Essentially just because one cannot or should not get a vaccine due to pre-existing health concerns, does not mean that they cannot get the disease they are attempting to be vaccinated from.

History of Mandatory Vaccines in United States

In Chapter 13 of a collected essays on vaccinations (which is available for free here) recounts the history of vaccinations, mandatory and non mandatory, in the early days of the country. In the decade the followed the triumphant victory in the American Revolution, smallpox “the great scourge of the American colonies” threatened the very existence of the new nation. That was until 1796 when an English physician and scientist named Edward Jenner did pioneering work in the field of immunology resulting in the world’s first ever vaccine. As Malone and Hinman note, this conveniently coincided with compulsory schooling in the newly formed United States. The author’s write “Since the bringing together of large numbers of children clearly facilitated the spread of smallpox, and since vaccination provided a relatively safe preventive, it was natural that compulsory school attendance laws should lead to a movement for compulsory vaccination. . . .”

With that in mind, it wasn’t until 1809 (in Massachusetts) when the first state laws were enacted that actually required citizens to get vaccinations. Fast forwarding to 1855, the state would utilize newly found police force to ensure that required vaccinations were carried out. This set the stage for the iconic 1905 Supreme Court case of Jacobson v. Massachusetts where the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Massachusetts to enforce vaccinations. The court held “The police power of a state must be held to embrace at least such reasonable regulations established directly by legislative enactment to protect public health and safety.”

Compulsory Vaccinations Around The World

As a wonderful study on compulsory vaccinations around the world by Erin Walkinshaw puts it “Vaccination policies in countries around the world are so varied and fractured they almost seem Canadian.”  We recommend that readers who are interested read the article in question, however most countries have taken an educational (if not explicitly aggressive) route to get parents to vaccinate themselves and their children.

One particularly interesting approach is Australia who take a financial incentive approach. As Walkinshaw writes that as of 2011, “Parents receive nontaxable payments of A$129 for each child who meets immunization requirements between 18 and 24 months of age, and again if the child meets requirements between four and five years of age.” 

However this is a result of the fact that Australian children are not required to be vaccinated but the state has the authority to prevent them from attending school in the event of an outbreak. Another interesting example is Latvia, which  is unique in that “it compels health care providers to obtain the signatures of those who decline vaccination.” People in Latvia have the right to opt out of vaccinations but, in doing so, must officially document themselves.

As always, should we become aware that Ben has changed his opinion or should new evidence be submitted that we have either misconstrued his opinion or failed to include important statements from him, we will 1) make the correction, 2) note the correction here, 3) issue a mea culpa that attempts to explain and improve on how we missed this. 

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