Have vaccines always been mandated?

Just a note about this truism going around, that there is nothing unusual in mandating vaccines for 100% of the population -- in part because I think a lot of men have seized on it, and men aren't the ones to take the kids to the doctor to get their shots. Most men leave those things to their wives, and everyone is very busy and forgets how things actually were. Or perhaps we are getting used to being told what the past was like, instead of consulting our own memories and experience.

I am here to tell you that it is not true. Not everyone got all the shots -- and brace yourself: the doctor did recommend shots but also answered questions, and the assumption was that informed consent was the basis for proceeding. If mom said no, it was no.

The situation with vaccines changed quite a bit -- and not without some careful orchestration that in hindsight looks rather fishy -- around ten years ago. I don't have the time to pull out all the threads, but I will say that as the nomination process for both parties' presidential races got going, in that 2015-16 season, suddenly ridicule for "anti-vaxxers" which had been simmering came to a boil on social media (especially on Twitter); those who questioned the rising insistence on children getting every shot on the prescribed schedule were called out for being nutty leftists (which some of them undoubtedly were, far out of proportion to their numbers). 

It was odd, because most parents just went along getting most vaccines. But not all parents were getting all vaccines; many who were not at all liberal but more conservative were simply making quiet observations and deciding they didn't trust the government with their children's health (see this post -- the 60 Minutes segment from 1972 is of particular interest). And this new awareness made statists on both sides of the political spectrum go insane with the desire to impose their will in this matter, which surely they knew very little about. Most of the talking points and online rants seemed to be written by young staffers wet behind the collar and without much in the way of epidemiology credentials or for that matter, experience in taking children to the pediatrician.

That was when, as I say, things flared up (but not in a random, disorganized way) with some provocateurs on the Right calling for parents who refused to vaccinate their children to have them taken away (as one Op-Ed in USA Today screeched) and tweeting "Vaccinate your damn kids." The word had gone out and the talking-point (really, just talking-slogan) push was on. There seemed to be a larger agenda, but it was hard to pinpoint what it could be. 

All this coincided with a steep increase in something that had been going on for some time: insurance companies demanding that doctors treat patients according to their, the companies', actuarial policies rather than how we usually assume it happens, on a one-on-one medical basis. Schedules set by the manufacturers had become the norm, and people probably mostly don't realize that their physicians' medical practices had begun to take incentives from the insurance companies to vaccinate children fully and on their schedules. They were -- and are -- getting money for shots.

The first step in this effort was to say that doctors, as medical experts, not parents, knew what was best for the child. This reversed the practice in place, for the physician to inform the parent, who made the decision. It bears repeating that what was unsaid was that the doctors were being leaned on by the insurance companies, who got their information from the vaccine manufacturers as to when the shots were to be given and how often.

The next step is important for you to understand. It was for the state to begin taking the decision-making process away from doctors; the next few years saw an increase in initiatives to move the whole vaccination program over to the states' boards of health; to put bureaucrats, not doctors, and certainly not parents, in charge. Here in Massachusetts, citizens have had to beat back on a regular basis a bill to give these board of health bureaucrats the power to vaccinate minors (not defined) without parental consent or even knowledge.

But back when mom took baby into the pediatrician's office, there was a discussion between them about many factors regarding the little one's care. And this is what I really hope sticks in your mind, although I suppose it's quixotic of me to think that a little post here would have any effect on the banding-about of these talking points: it really did happen. The doctor really did explain what the shot was, although in my memory there was never a discussion about possible side effects, apart from being told to expect a fever and a sore arm. And there was never any inquiry into harm that came afterwards, but observation is what started to make some more wary.

Take it from me, though. It's hard to believe, but there was a time when informed consent really was a thing. Remember too that there were far fewer vaccines. This chart leaves out the main years that my children were going to the doctor's office under my supervision, but you get the idea.

Even though, as I look back, I see that the drug companies were covering up harms they were causing, the alert parent had a choice. And the vaccines that were mandated were still few. The others were recommended. (By the way, as far as I know, although each individual vaccine has been tested extensively, they have never been tested all together -- but that is how they are given, with the prospect of a massive "one dose" shot containing all the vaccines the child supposedly needs at a given point.)

I personally had discussions with my children's pediatrician over which ones to take and which ones to leave. I had a say about the schedule. I wasn't berated if I chose to wait or to leave one or more off. It was a decision that I made and he respected.

He then filled out a card saying which ones my child had received. And that was that. Although we did homeschool, we didn't start out doing so. Some of our kids went to public school and some to private school. The respective school accepted the record provided. Had there been any sort of dispute, I could have invoked a religious exemption, which probably should have been called a medical freedom exemption, but who was to know that the state would become wedded in this way to the giant corporations that now run our medical institutions. Well, I suppose we should have known...

It's just not honest to compare Covid vaccine mandates with those of the past (and for that matter, to compare previous vaccines to the substance given for Covid, which is only called a vaccine because the definition has been changed to suit it -- changed within the past few months). For starters, consider that the vast majority of adults do not receive any boosters for their childhood vaccines (barring an injury that might lead to a tetanus shot). So the truth is that most adults walk around lacking immunization, natural or otherwise, for all these supposedly dire diseases. Even tuberculosis, a highly contagious and deadly disease, is not normally vaccinated for. If you go to the ER, no one is going to require that you have a TB vaccination. I cannot recall anyone ever asking me about my vaccination status (other than that tetanus shot).

Until very recently, the state acknowledged the ultimate right of the parent to decide. That's what religious exemptions are all about, but it usually didn't get to that point. The doctor might have imperiously indicated what was going to happen (or the system might just have rolled along), but if the parent (usually the mother) said something or asked a question, he knew that informed consent required that he give way. Don't get me wrong: I don't think many did resist the system. But those who did (and I was one in a moderate, and then more strict, way) really didn't come up against a lot of opposition. 

I just don't want anyone to think that "we've always had these mandates" -- i.e. losing our jobs and even care at a hospital over vaccine status -- because that is just not true.


  1. Thank you for your insight and thoughtful comments! The attached whitepaper was presented to the NIH in 2017 by ICAN (The Informed Consent Action Network) and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. It is an thoroughly documented and very informative presentation on the vaccine safety program and can help us to understand how informed consent has been sidelined and now, denied.


  2. Yes, thank you! I noticed a big uptick in pressure when I had my fourth right when Swine Flu swept the nation. (And yet nothing shut down.) After that the pressure to vaccinate got more intense and also spread to pregnancies. After that it became flu shot, Swine flu shot, TDaP - but the last one only every two years. Now it's pushed EVERY PREGNANCY. And I have friends who just roll up their sleeves every time. Very conservative, but super pro-vax. It boggles my mind some people don't even stop to consider if it's a bit much and why is it being pushed so hard?
    I'm pretty sure this "vaccines can't be questioned" charade has been going on for some time though. Last year my husband's grandmother, whose youngest child is his 60s now, told the story that her doctor insisted her youngest come in and get his measles shot. So she did get it for him and within a week he came down with measles like symptoms. The doctor admitted that it was probably measles from the shot but couldn't "legally" say that. More recently my friend had a child who had to go to the ER for a reaction to the MMR. She wanted it put on her child's chart but the DR wouldn't because it "wasn't one of the approved recognized reactions."

    1. Yes, I agree and do maintain that vaccines were an entrenched part of health care. I don't think that most questioned (but remember, there were just a few).
      But if you DID question, it was between you and the doctor. You could find another doctor. Remember the pro-abortion slogan that reproductive decisions are between a woman and her doctor? That trope depended on the collective idea that there IS such a relationship and that there is a certain sacrosanct aura surrounding it. And in turn, it has to do with informed consent.
      You notice that they don't say that much these days. That's because it's all handed off to the clinics. Those on the legislative side are working towards bills allowing non-physicians to provide abortions.
      Anyway, my point here is that informed consent has gone by the boards, along with the basic idea of health care being a patient-doctor issue. Public policy is to place it in the bureaucracy, the department of health, and to replace informed consent with decision-making between the government, the insurance companies, and the manufacturers.

    2. And of course, to your point about reactions to shots, it's all so very self-serving to decide on possible reactions before they occur and apart from what actually occurs. It's also unacceptable for certain reactions to be deemed acceptable-- and so not mentioned or dismissed.

    3. Right after Obamacare passed our beloved family doctor, like most doctors, had to abandon his private practice and work under a corporate health umbrella. He had no say even over his office staff anymore because they became corporate hires. Shortly after that he up and moved to Florida because he could and did something other than family practice. So I'm still smarting over the "if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor" BS, but I digress.
      Anyway, yes. I absolutely loathe the disappearance of the patient-doctor relationship. I saw it particularly clearly when my mother was hospitalized for Covid induced pneumonia earlier this year. Thankfully no vent, but what a contrast between her doctor experience and my dad, who had open heart surgery earlier this year. My dad's doctor approved everything he asked for vitamin wise, for example. My Mom's doctor would not even approve the slightest uptick in Vit. D from a very low baseline dose because "it was not protocol" even though my Mom's family doctor tried to intercede for her. It was then I realized how deeply corporate policy has both tied doctors' hands and largely made them corporate schleps.

  3. I could go on and on about this… but yes to all of that about healthcare. Our family doctor was likewise forced into retirement by Obamacare.

    Our son had a severe hives reaction after an MMR shot. Oh no, it couldn’t possibly have been caused by the vaccine! Nothing to see here! We left that practice soon afterwards. They put up a big sign from corporate in the lobby that said, “Congratulations (This Practice) on 100% vaccine compliance!” Well, that was a lie, since my family and several others that I knew in that practice were NOT 100% in compliance. But the writing was literally in the wall. For “anti-vaxxers” like us, now defined as even QUESTIONING a vaccine, our choices are evermore dwindling down to getting berated like a recalcitrant child every appointment until we leave or are finally kicked out of the practice, find a home in alternative medicine, or go without healthcare. The few good doctors left are likewise being relentlessly pressured to comply.

    All aspects of medicine are like this. I just had a baby in a hospital and the protocols were RIDICULOUS. Because my due date was after my 35th birthday, I was automatically labeled “high risk” and all I had discussed with my doctor regarding intermittent monitoring and other “privileges” was suddenly and completely insupportable. Every provider who came in the room (and they are, of course, legion when you are trying to sleep) looked at the chart, not at me or the baby. There were so many things they flagged as “problematic” that were really not a problem at all. I make a lot of colostrum. He only needed to nurse about 20 minutes per feeding, not the 40 minutes every two hours they require for breastfeeding mothers. (I had no idea there was a rule.) He lost 5 oz because he pooped 5 meconiums in the first 24 hours. The hospital pediatrician told me with a straight face protocol for poop is one the first 24 hours, two in the second 24 hours. So I’m simultaneously not feeding him enough and his gut is too efficient. Hmm…

  4. Thanks for writing this all out, Leila, yes it's a good reminder. I've only been having children for 10 years, so I know nothing but vaccine pressure. I really regret permitting certain vaccinations for a certain child after being gently pressured over and over by a provider who was, otherwise, a very nice person. I don't vaccinate my kids anymore. My trust in this stuff is far too low.