Federal Vaccine Mandates: A Slippery Slope That Violates Informed Consent and State Sovereignty

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There is a strong move afoot to impose federal vaccination mandates. This is a slippery slope that would violate both the principle of informed consent and state sovereignty.

On February 19, CNN interviewed U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who is now stepping down from the agency. However, if his comments are more than the view of a single individual, every American should still be alarmed by them, which indicate that the agency has been considering a federal vaccine mandate. According to CNN, Gottlieb stated that “if states don’t require more schoolchildren to get vaccinated, the federal government might have to step in.” [1] He also reportedly said, “You could mandate certain rules about what is and isn’t permissible when it comes to allowing people to have exemptions.”

If the federal government mandates vaccines for children, mandates for adults will likely follow. Mandates are expected to be based upon the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) childhood and adult vaccine schedules which, as discussed below, are rapidly expanding and adding additional vaccines and doses.  Such federal mandates will be a dangerous usurpation of both individual liberty and state sovereignty.

Forced Vaccination Violates Informed Consent

Vaccination is a medical intervention that carries the risk of injury or death. Further, vaccine mandates are in direct opposition to informed consent.

According to the National Vaccine Information Center, “Informed consent has been the central ethical principle of the practice of modern medicine since the Nuremberg Code was issued by the Nuremberg Tribunal after World War II. Although the Nuremberg Code specifically addressed the human right for human beings to give their voluntary informed consent to participate in scientific experiments, the First Principle of the Nuremberg Code has become an ethical standard for allowing patients to give their voluntary consent to engage in medical interventions that carry a risk of harm.” [2] The Nuremberg Code was introduced in 1947 after the Nuremberg trials, in which Nazi doctors were convicted of crimes for conducting human experiments on concentration camp prisoners without the prisoners’ consent.

On the state level, mandatory vaccine laws generally apply to children with regard to school attendance, but most states allow exemptions based upon medical, philosophical and/or religious grounds. Although there have been legislative efforts in some states to reduce or eliminate exemptions, these have been defeated in many cases. By having this issue determined at the local or state level, rather than the federal level, individuals affected by the mandates have a greater chance to have their voices heard.

Number of Recommended Vaccines Steadily Rise Since Removal of Liability

Most Americans are unaware that, unlike with other products, the pharmaceutical industry is generally shielded from liability for harm caused by federally recommended vaccines.

This is the result of a law passed in 1986, which has caused vaccines to be the most lucrative product of the pharmaceutical industry. The 1986 law created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), which is essentially a special system outside of the normal litigation process to hear claims of harm caused by vaccines. Any compensation granted by the VICP is paid by the public, through a surcharge on vaccines, and not by vaccine manufacturers.

Further, although discovery is a right afforded to litigants in most other legal forums, discovery is generally not permitted in the VICP process. By being deprived of the right to conduct discovery, complainants are unable to unearth potentially damaging evidence concerning vaccines in the possession of the pharmaceutical industry. Through discovery in other forums, in cases concerning prescription medication, information unfavorable to the pharmaceutical industry has come to light. This includes damaging e-mails which were required to be produced in litigation concerning the drug Vioxx. [3]

In the absence of the pharmaceutical industry’s liability for most vaccines, the number of vaccines recommended by it and the CDC is steadily rising. For example, in 1983, the CDC recommended that children receive 23 doses of seven vaccines. By 2017, the number of vaccines it was recommending rose to 69 doses of 16 vaccines starting on the day of birth to age 18, with 50 doses of 14 vaccines given before age 6. [4] A CDC adult vaccine schedule has also existed since 2002. [5] Like with the childhood schedule, the number of recommended vaccines and doses on the adult schedule has continued to rise.

Once the CDC’s vaccine schedules are mandated by federal law, Americans will continue to be subject to them even as more vaccines and doses are added, in a dangerous slippery slope.

Additionally, federal vaccine mandates may open the door to federal mandates for other medical treatments and procedures without informed consent. This may, for example, include the federal government mandating that children demonstrating social or emotional problems in the schools be forced to submit to a mental health evaluation by a government approved provider and to whatever psychiatric drugs are recommended by the provider, without the child’s or parents’ consent. The precedent set by federal vaccine mandates will set the stage for further expansion of federal control over individuals’ medical decisions.

The Safety and Effectiveness of Vaccines Is Not Settled Science 

The pharmaceutical industry and proponents of forced vaccines argue that settled science has established that vaccines are safe, necessary and effective and, in an attempt to discredit those opposed to vaccine mandates, label them as anti-science. The media, which is largely dependent upon revenue from the pharmaceutical industry, almost unanimously parrots this view.

In fact, a voluminous amount of scientific information exists which indicates that vaccines are not safe, highly effective nor necessary. Furthermore, the most widely followed proponents of vaccine choice rely heavily upon scientific evidence in discussing the risks of vaccines and in questioning their effectiveness and necessity. Some of these sources of information include the following:

  • Children’s Health Defense. www.ChildrensHealthDefense.org
  • Informed Consent Action Network. icandecide.org
  • National Vaccine Information Center. www.nvic.org
  • Miller’s Review of Critical Vaccine Studies: 400 Important Scientific Papers Summarized for Parents and Researchers by Neil Z. Zimmer [6]
  • Vaccines – A Reappraisal by Dr. Richard Moskowitz [7]
  • How to End the Autism Epidemic by J.B. Handley [8]
  • Dissolving Illusions – Disease, Vaccines, and the Forgotten History by Dr. Suzanne Humphries and Roman Bystrianyk [9]

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. serves as Chairman of Children’s Health Defense and its website contains extensive information concerning the potential dangers of vaccines. Further, sections of the website are specifically devoted to federal government failures in the area of vaccine safety (entitled “Federal Failures” and “Government Corruption”). [10]

The information found on this website includes detailed discussions about toxic ingredients in many vaccines and the cumulative effect of exposure to these toxins by the numerous doses required by the CDC’s schedules. Although the ingredients in each vaccine differ, some of the concerning ingredients found in them include aluminum, antibiotics, formaldehyde, Polysorbate 80, bovine extract, egg protein, monosodium glutamate (MSG), squalene, and/or aborted human fetal tissue. [11]

Del Bigtree is the founder of the Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN) and hosts the podcast The HighWire with Del Bigtree. ICAN’s website also contains a large body of scientific information indicating the potential dangers of vaccines and discusses the lack of scientific evidence establishing that they are safe and necessary. ICAN has brought suit against federal agencies in connection with vaccine safety. For example, it sued the FDA requesting any clinical trials relied upon by it prior to approving the currently licensed influenza or Tdap vaccine for use in pregnant women. ICAN settled the suit after the FDA admitted that it did not possess the requested data. [12]

The book Miller’s Review of Critical Vaccine Studies: 400 Important Scientific Papers Summarized for Parents and Researchers by Neil Z. Miller discusses over 400 peer-reviewed scientific studies raising concerns about vaccine safety and efficacy. [13] In Vaccines – A Reappraisal, Dr. Richard Moskowitz discusses surprising facts concerning vaccine safety testing, including that vaccines are generally tested without a control group of untreated (unvaccinated) individuals for comparison and that monitoring for adverse reactions generally occurs for a very short period of time, often of fourteen days or less. He also points to epidemiological research which indicates that vaccines may interfere with the normal development of a healthy immune system, discusses research indicating the surprisingly low effectiveness rates of many vaccines and conducts a painstaking review of specific vaccines, detailing their types and ingredients and presenting scientific evidence of harm caused by them. This includes information of brain injury, seizure disorders, autoimmune disorders and many other serious health consequences. [14] J.B. Handley’s book How to End the Autism Epidemic discusses the latest scientific information concerning potential harm caused by vaccines, particularly focusing on aluminum, a toxic metal used as an adjuvant in many vaccines, and focusing on evidence of a causal link between vaccines and autism. [15] In Dissolving Illusions – Disease, Vaccines, and the Forgotten History, Dr. Suzanne Humphries, a board-certified nephrologist, and Roman Bystrianyk, provide evidence that much of what we have been told about vaccines and their role in the decline in mortality from infectious disease in developed nations is untrue. They argue, using the historical record, that most of that decline occurred due to advances in nutrition, hygiene, sanitation and access to clean water. [16]

States Must Resist Federal Vaccine Mandates. 

As we have seen with marijuana and industrial hemp, federal regulation becomes ineffective when states enact contradictory policies. If multiple states ban mandatory vaccinations or pass laws which conflict with the CDC’s recommended schedules, it will become extremely difficult for the federal government to enforce any kind of future federal mandates. Such state laws will also undermine the federal narrative and make it more difficult for the feds to generate support for nationwide mandatory vaccine policies.


[1] Cohen, Elizabeth and Bonifeld, John, “FDA chief: Federal government might step in if states don’t change lax vaccine laws.”  CNN.com. Cable News Network. Web. 20 Feb, 2019. https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/20/health/vaccine-exemptions-fda-gottlieb/index.html.  Accessed 23 Feb. 2019.

[2] National Vaccine Information Center. “Frequently Asked Questions About Informed Consent Q: What is informed consent and how does it apply to vaccination?” www.nvic.org. Web. https://www.nvic.org/faqs/informed-consent.aspx. Accessed 23 Feb. 2019.

[3] Berensen, Alex, “Jury Finds Merck Liable in Vioxx Death and Awards $253 Million.”  nytimes.com, Web. 19 Aug. 2005. https://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/19/business/jury-finds-merck-liable-in-vioxx-death-and-awards-253-million.html.  Accessed 23 Feb. 2019.

[4] National Vaccine Information Center. “A Guide to Reforming Vaccine Policy and Law.” www.nvic.org. Web. 26 Sept. 2018.  https://www.nvic.org/Vaccine-Laws/state-vaccine-requirements/Reforming-Vaccine-Policy—Law-Guide.aspx. Accessed 23 Feb. 2019.

[5] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Immunization Schedules, Table 1. Recommended Adult Immunization Schedule for ages 19 years or older, United States, 2019. Web. 29 Jan. 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/hcp/imz/adult-compliant.html. Accessed 23 Feb. 2019.

[6] Miller, Neil Z., Miller’s Review of Critical Vaccine Studies: 400 Important Scientific Papers Summarized for Parents and Researchers, Santa Fe, New Mexico: New Altantean Press, 2016. Print.

[7] Moskowitz, Richard, Vaccines – A Reappraisal. New York, New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2017. Print.

[8] Handley, J.B., How to End the Autism Epidemic. White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2018. Print.

[9] Humphries, Suzanne, and Roman Bystrianyk. Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines and the Forgotten History, 2013. Print.

[10] www.ChildrensHealthDefense.org.  Web. Accessed 23 Feb. 2019.

[11] Imus, Deirdre.  “Toxic Vaccine Ingredients:  The Devil is in the Details.”  www.ChildrensHealthDefense.org. Web. 6 March 2018. https://childrenshealthdefense.org/news/toxic-vaccine-ingredients-the-devils-in-the-details/.  Accessed 23 Feb. 2019

[12] Informed Consent Action Network.  “The ICAN Notice to FDA Regarding the Off Label Use of Vaccines in Pregnancy.” icandecide.org. Web. 11 Feb. 2019.  https://icandecide.org/governments/. Accessed 23 Feb. 2019.

[13] Miller, Neil Z., Miller’s Review of Critical Vaccine Studies: 400 Important Scientific Papers Summarized for Parents and Researchers, Santa Fe, New Mexico: New Altantean Press, 2016. Print.

[14] Moskowitz, Richard, Vaccines – A Reappraisal. New York, New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2017. Print.

[15] Handley, J.B., How to End the Autism Epidemic. White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2018. Print.

[16] Humphries, Suzanne, and Roman Bystrianyk. Dissolving Illusions: Disease,

Vaccines and the Forgotten History, 2013. Print.

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