Edwin Spencer had no idea he was going to make history the day he knocked on the door of Henning Jacob Jacobson in Cambridge, Massachusetts. All he knew was that chickenpox was spreading in their city at the dawn of the 20th century, և doctor նախագահ chairman of the health council, his job was to make sure that all residents had been vaccinated against a deadly disease in the last five years.
Jacobson flatly refused to comply.
More than a century later, when millions of Americans are being vaccinated against the coronavirus voluntarily, society is beginning to reopen, raising the question of how far business and government can go to ensure security. Can airlines, concert halls and other companies refuse service to anyone who chooses not to get vaccinated? The Biden administration insists there will be no national mandate, but is still working with the private sector to develop a vaccination passport or certification.
And knocking on that door in March 1902 sets a legal precedent for directing policymakers to the courts. It is a story told in detail by historian Michael Wilrich in his “Pox. An American History.
Henning Jacobson was a Swedish immigrant, a naturalized U.S. citizen who came to America with his family as a teenager. After attending seminary in the Middle East, he was sent to Cambridge to preach in Swedish, mostly to immigrants. He often stood near the ports of Boston in search of newly arrived Swedes for jobs, housing, and contact with the local Swedish community. A mild-mannered man of moderate religion, he was not known for his fiery sermons or strange opinions.
Decades before Jacob Jacobson moved to Massachusetts, the Commonwealth led the nation to adopt vaccine laws. Since 1827, Boston schoolchildren have been required to show proof of smallpox vaccine in order to attend public school. And from 1855 onwards, state law allowed local health boards to vaccinate at the behest of all adults in the event of an outbreak, as the chickenpox vaccine lasted less than 10 years. At the beginning of the century, 13 other states required proof of school immunizations, and 11 had mandatory immunization laws for adults.
Although he was a pastor, Jacob Jacobson’s objection to vaccination was not religious but personal. He was vaccinated against chickenpox in Sweden when he was 6 years old and had a bad reaction. He did not want to go through that again, he did not want to subject his children to it if the bad reaction was hereditary.
At first, Spencer, the chairman of the health council, noted Jacob Jacobson’s refusal, but did not take any action. Doubts about vaccines were not so rare. They were mostly effective, vaccines were not regulated then, vaccine injury was more common than it is today.
On the other side of the Charles River in Boston, where chickenpox broke out, the health council was not so lenient. According to the New England Journal, Samuel Durgin offered free vaccinations to hundreds of thousands of residents, but when that failed to stem the tide of infected patients, he recruited “viral detachments” of police and medical officials who caught and vaccinated people, often homeless men, according to the New England Journal of Medicine: Police beat a man so badly that he had to get stitches for a head wound after being vaccinated.
Durgin also publicly challenged any vaccines to come with him to an island where sick patients are treated in isolation. One, Emanuel Pifer, accepted. He almost died of chickenpox. Many were angry that Durgin had allowed Pfeiffer to return to a community where he could have had another outbreak before he fell ill, but Durgin thought the headlines: , according to New England magazine.
The outbreak continued not only in Cambridge but also in two blocks of Jacob Jacobson’s house. So when Spencer returned, the pastor still refused to do what the law allowed him to do. He fined ob Jacobson $ 5 (about $ 153 today).
Instead of paying the fine, Jacobson և a number of other vaccine deniers appealed to the Supreme Court, where they attracted the attention and support of vaccine-fighting societies. Those societies provided Jacob Jacobson with powerful lawyers who argued the case before the Supreme Court.
In other state courts, a number of decisions were made on mandatory vaccination laws և they were all over the map. Some kept the laws, some broke them or imposed restrictions. It is obvious that a national policy was needed.
The Supreme Court made its decision in 1905. In February. According to 7-2, Justice John von Marshall Harlan, a former Kentucky slave who fought for the Union in the Civil War and won a landslide against Plessy vs. Ferguson, said public health. can replace individual rights.
«[T]The liberty guaranteed by the United States Constitution does not impose an absolute right on every person under its jurisdiction to abstain from restraint at all times և in all circumstances. “There are multiple restrictions that each person is subject to in the common interest.”
And although the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Health Council, it made it clear that “they have no power to vaccinate.” [Jacobson] “The Supreme Court did not contradict that, it was, in fact, providing more guarantees, saying that the ‘common good’ laws should be reasonable. Immigrants in New York were forcibly vaccinated in New York, as were African Americans in Kentucky.
At the Supreme Court ruling, the three Jacobsons refused to be vaccinated for the first time, and almost three years later, the chickenpox outbreak in Cambridge died down and will never return. (Chickenpox was declared extinct from the planet in 1979).
The government began to regulate the quality of vaccines, թվականին In another case in 1922, the Supreme Court v. King upheld the evidence of public school vaccination laws.
Jacobson paid his fine and returned to his lenient ways of preaching his flock. The vaccine movement has just begun.