An Ethical Debate Renewed: Injecting Children with Mandatory Covid-19 Vaccinations

Joel Eisenberg

We have been through this before, and more than once.
Childhood, Public Domain

The White House reported Wednesday that pharmacies, pediatrician’s offices, and some schools will soon offer Covid-19 Pfizer vaccines to children, pending final approvals from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA.

The CDC will meet on the matter from November 2-November 3, after which doses and smaller child-sized needles are expected to begin their shipments. To date, over 25,000 pediatricians and other doctor’s offices have agreed to administer the shots to what the White House hopes is a full capacity of 28 million children, aged 5-11.

In the past, administering mandatory injections within this age range has been the subject of debate for various diseases.

As of today, an estimated 219 million U.S. citizens, representing nearly two-thirds of the country’s population, have received a single Covid-19 vaccination, with 190 million said to be fully vaccinated.

According to the History of Vaccines and Governing websites, which detail timelines of domestic, government-regulated mandatory vaccinations, both point to the early 1800’s development and usage of the smallpox vaccine to be the first such mandated vaccination, which was administered mainly to children. From there, various governmental agencies and guidelines formed to oversee further vaccine development deemed necessary as based on the ills of the day.

By 1922, most U.S. schools mandated smallpox vaccination before children could attend. But then, as now, court cases flourished as to the legality of the mandate, in part as parents insisted their children were not capable of making an informed decision on the matter. In a case heard and summarily dismissed by the Supreme Court, Rosalyn Zucht was excluded from public school for failure to present proof of vaccination. According to the History of Vaccines website, her family cited a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment which guaranteed due process and equal protection. The Supreme Court decided the case presented was not substantial, and citing older cases reinforced the laws of the state were determined by city ordinances. The Supreme Court’s most telling quote: “It is within the police power of a state to provide for compulsory vaccinatIon.”

As time went on, further laws were passed strengthening the case for mandatory inoculation in service of the public good. InternatIonal laws were also developed for mandatory vaccinations as deemed necessary.

NPR, in their May 3, 2021 article “Can’t Help Falling in Love With a Vaccine: How Polio Campaign Beat Vaccine Hesitancy,” introduces their piece with the following sentence: “The mass inoculation of millions of American children against polio in 1955, like the vaccinations of millions of American adults against Covid-19 in 2021, was a triumph of science.“

Dr. Jonas Salk is credited with having developed the polio vaccine — a shot which myself and everyone in my family had taken when we were young — which effectively ended polio as a national scourge. The difference between the polio vaccine and today’s Covid-19 inoculations is the former was widely accepted by the population, who during that period, as the article states, had a deep respect for science.

Today, vaccinations and the Covid-19 virus itself have been politicized to the point where the continued efforts on behalf of the White House and elsewhere is fought on the federal and state levels by governors and other politicians who equate mandatory injections with going against one’s Constitutionally-granted freedoms.

When children are in the mix, as with mask mandates, the issue becomes that much more of a hot-button.

One hopes as a nation we are able to outrun this pandemic bereft of political divides and prior to further expected mutations, both issues as discussed with some frequency by Dr. Anthony Fauci and his associates — who themselves have become politicized figureheads.

Thank you for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

Northridge, CA

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