Category Archives: Anti-Vaccine

Immunization Mandates do not Discriminate

“Anti-vaccine activists have been claiming that statutes abolishing exemptions from school immunization requirements – like SB277 in California – are discriminatory. This post explains why this claim is wrong in both its form: school immunization requirements without exemptions are neither discrimination nor segregation.”

The Facts about the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

“In this post I explain how one goes about proving a case in the  National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP), and how that differs from proving a case in the civil courts, focusing on what it means to have a no-fault program and proving causation. I will use a case that started with the tragic death of a young child after a vaccine to illustrate the complexity and operation of the program, and also to address the idea of federal preemption, and how it limits the ability of those claiming vaccine injuries to use state courts for their claims. ”

Herd Immunity and Immunization Policy: Response to Holland and Zachary

Blog post:

“This piece is a summary of Herd Immunity and Immunization Policy: The Importance of Accuracy, soon to be published in v. 94 of Oregon Law Review.

In an article that was published in the Oregon Law Review in 2014, authors Holland and Zachary claimed that school immunization mandates are inappropriate because they reject the concept that herd immunity works.

This piece will explain  why Holland and Zachary’s analysis is simply incorrect. And let’s be clear–there is a legitimate debate about  whether school immunization mandates are appropriate, policy wise, as a response to non-vaccination.”


Full article:



This article explains why claims made by Holland and Zachary in their article, Herd Immunity and Compulsory Childhood Vaccination: Does the Theory Justify the Law?, are incorrect and untenable. The authors misunderstand the nature of society’s duty to children, which is not similar to duty in torts but draws from the state’s role in protecting vulnerable children when their parents do not act in their best interests. Their view of herd immunity is also incorrect: the article does not well define the term, ignores data showing that herd immunity works, and their discussion of their two examples is inaccurate: close examination of those examples actually shows the role of herd immunity in protecting against disease. Finally, the authors’ analysis does not support their claim that mandates are unnecessary.”


Measles, exemptions, legal changes

“In reaction to the outbreak, politicians in many states proposed bills tightening exemptions from school immunization requirements.[10] This short article examines the law and legislative trends in this area.

Several states have exemption rates that are too high to preserve herd immunity. Oregon, at 7.1%, is at a high risk.[42] California has a low rate of exemptions overall, but has areas where rates of immunization are low.[43]Maine, Michigan, and Washington all have high exemption rates.[44] These states all face a real risk of disease. At least tightening these exemptions is a powerful idea.

Religious exemptions are completely inappropriate due to their vulnerability to abuse and the unfairness of putting the child at risk for beliefs the parents hold and the child is too young to choose. On the other hand, however, a system that does not leave parents any way to refuse vaccination is too extreme.

At the very least, since the public health argument is not as strong for homeschoolers, it makes sense to exempt children who are homeschooled from immunization requirements. Offering a hard-to-get personal belief exemption is preferable to a religious exemption, but should be harder to obtain than even the educational requirement currently in place.  Ideally, getting the exemption would require a daylong course with a short quiz at its end. The course requirement would help limit exemptions to only the very small set of parents with the strongest feelings against vaccines, parents who believe that asking them to vaccinate is akin to asking them to poison their child.”

Article: Tools for dealing with Childhood Vaccination Crisis

Responding to the Childhood Vaccination Crisis: Legal Frameworks and Tools in the Context of Parental Vaccine Refusal

Dorit Rubinstein Reiss

University of California Hastings College of the Law

Lois A. Weithorn

University of California Hastings College of the Law

March 4, 2015

Buffalo Law Review, Vol.63, August 2015, Forthcoming
UC Hastings Research Paper No. 134 


In spite of vaccines’ impressive record of safety and effectiveness, some families have failed to immunize their children, denying those children protection against vaccine-preventable diseases. In the last years, rates of nonvaccination, as well as rates of partial adherence to vaccination schedules, have been increasing. Predictably, this has led to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. This article examines potential legal responses to this crisis. It sets out the legal framework governing childhood vaccination policies, highlighting the strength of governmental authority when the state’s police power to protect the public health and its parens patriae authority to protect the health of children and other vulnerable members of society converge, as they do in this context. After describing the phenomenon of nonvaccination, the reasons leading to parental refusals and the effects of those refusals, the article provides a menu of legal tools that can be used to improve vaccination rates.

Why a law allowing teen agers to consent to certain vaccines is justified

This post, written with Arthur Caplan, responds to Alan Phillips’ claim that a law proposed in New York, a law that would allow teen agers to consent to certain vaccines – the HPV and Hepatitis B vaccine – without needing parental permission is unconstitutional and illegal. The post explains why the law is both legal and justified.



Responding to Maine’s Coalition for Vaccine Choice’s Law:

The Maine Coalition for Vaccine Choice proposed a very problematic law that could mislead parents into not vaccinating because of false claims and would go against public policy. This post explains the problems with the law.




Walker-Smith’s acquittal does not exonerate Andrew Wakefield

This post responds to the anti-vaccine claim that by reversing the finding that Prof. John Walker-Smith, the senior author on Andrew Wakefield’s Lancet paper, was guilty of serious ethical violations, a British Court also cleared Andrew Wakefield from the findings of a General Medical Council panel against him. No, that is incorrect.

Andrew Wakefield’s Appeal to the Texas Courts

Andrew Wakefield filed a libel suit against Brian Deer, Fiona Godlee, and the British Medical Journal with the Texas Court, seen by many as an attempt to punish critics and galvanize supporter. These posts cover the story of that appeal.


  1. Andrew Wakefield’s suit against Brian Deer and BMJ rejected by the Court of Appeals:
  2. Andrew Wakefield asks the Supreme Court for extension of time to file with them:

So far, no appeal was filed with the Supreme Court.

Anti-Vaccine activists use tactics – including litigation – to silence opponents

This article covers three situations in which anti-vaccine activists mounted unjustified, problematic attacks against critics, in an attempt to silence them:

A. Attempting to get Dr. Paul Offit fired over a comment about autism.

B. Threatening Dr. Emily Willingham with a lawsuit with no basis.

C. Attacking high school students who made a pro-vaccine film.

Influenza Vaccine Mandates and Health Care Workers: a Response

Responding to Attorney Alan Phillips’ claims claiming that there are many things unconstitutional or illegal in imposing such mandates.


This is the second in a two-part series: in the first part, Skeptical Raptor tackles Attorney Phillips’ science-based claims. Here, I address his legal claims.

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program v. the Courts

On the background of attempts by anti-vaccine activists to do away with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, our no-fault program for compensating vaccine injuries, I explain why the program is better for petitioners than the regular courts.