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Why Vaccine Mandates Are Dangerous to Democracy

Who should make medical decisions for you and your children? The government? Or you and your doctor? And how do we balance human rights with the public good?
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Right now we are in the midst of a national feud about whether the government should mandate vaccinations for both adults and children—even to the point of nullifying doctor-determined medical exemptions. The main issue appears on the surface to be about whether vaccinations are safe, or whether in some cases they are harmful.

But there is a deeper issue that is much more important: Who should make medical decisions for you and your children? The government? Or you as individuals and parents with your doctor?

The precedent we are setting should chill you to your bones. Here’s why…

This is Not About Vaccination at All

Which of the following actions is more reasonable to you:

1. Educating the populace about the scientific facts, then using government force and legal coercion to mandate what adults must choose for themselves and their children?

2. Educating the populace about the scientific facts, then letting adults make choices for themselves and their children?

This question highlights the growing divide between those who generally trust the government and those who often distrust it.

This division has become a fissure in our nation that crosses political party lines as a well as all ethnic and economic demographics.

Through most of the twentieth century, an average of 78% of Americans trusted the government, while today only 23% of Americans believe the government will do the right thing most of the time.

That’s a huge shift!

It shows up in numerous important issues across the country (in the name of the “greater good” or “protecting children”), including:

  • Enabling “food freedom” so people can produce, sell, or consume raw milk, heritage-breed pork, homemade pies or lemonade from a neighborhood stand vs. banning these local foods due to fear of food poisoning or unregulated production practices;
  • Permitting food gardening in one’s private front yard vs. city agencies and HOAs destroying front yard gardens as eyesores and pest attractors;
  • Demanding GMO labeling on foods so consumers can make a choice vs. refusing to label because current science says GMOs are “substantially equivalent” to non-GMO foods and perfectly safe;
  • Allowing children to be “free range” and walk themselves to school, ride their bike alone, wait in the car, or play unsupervised at the park vs. charging parents with neglect for leaving them unsupervised at any time;
  • Giving police carte blanche to use deadly force as they see fit vs. community vigilance about any use of force by the police to ensure that it was truly justified;
  • Campaign contributions from corporations as free speech (Citizen’s United); homeschooling vs. compulsory education; Common Core curricula; broad surveillance of citizens in the name of homeland security (Patriot Act), and more…

Never before have we lived in an age where we are so angrily divided and openly mistrustful of government, corporations, and our fellow citizens.

At one extreme we seem to be headed toward a paternalistic or even tyrannical nanny-state, but on the other extreme we could have unbridled libertarianism running roughshod on both the public good and the planet. (And at either extreme, we end up with corporatocracy.)

So, how do we balance individual rights vs. the “greater good”?

A System for Protecting Our Freedom

Those who support mandatory vaccination laws usually cite public health statistics as justification for their stance, while medical freedom advocates point to examples of where specific children were harmed.

The people who are thinking in terms of the mass population naturally overlook the specific, individual cases of harm (“they’re just anecdotal”). Meanwhile many concerned parents logically ignore the statistics (“my daughter isn’t a number”) and focus on the potential danger if their child just happens to be one of those who is harmed.

Both views have merit. Both are reasonable. Both make sense.


To whom are we going to give the final say? And how do we balance individual rights with the greater good?

According to political scholar and author Oliver DeMille, “the answer should depend on what level of society is best equipped to deal with each specific situation.”


Level A – If it’s a question about nuclear attack or foreign invasion, or other threats to national security, the federal government was designed to deal with it.

Level B – If it’s a question of crime or direct danger to everyone, it’s a state or provincial issue.

Level C – If anything in level B can be handled more effectively at a local level, it should be.

Level D – If it’s about what’s best for an individual’s education, prosperity, or health, let the individual choose. This is the essence of freedom. If it’s about children, let’s trust the parents.”

In fact, states DeMille, “This system of doing things at the right level, and only at the right level, is the key to maintaining freedom and applying wisdom on nearly every issue.”

For example:

  • Consuming raw milk, heritage pork, or prepared food items from small farms and cottage businesses? Level D – individual issue.
  • Police using deadly force? Level B – a state or local issue.
  • Oversight of any use of deadly force? Levels A-C, depending on who is using the force.
  • GMO labeling out of the right-to-know and the precautionary principle? Levels A-B, since most food is distributed nationally or regionally.
  • Use of private property to grow food gardens? Level D.
  • “Free range” children? Level D.
  • Homebirth and other medical procedures and medications? Level D.
  • Campaign contributions? Levels A-C, depending on the level of the candidate.

Using these criteria is essential to living in a free society. Without such standards, our freedom is quickly lost.

Fear Does Not Justify Taking Away Civil Rights

Let’s apply the above criteria to the current calls for mandatory vaccination.

Does the recent measles outbreak meet the “danger to everyone” critieria in level B or C above?


I know an unfamiliar disease can be scary and bring out our worst survival-based fears. There are as many horror stories of grandparents ending up in wheelchairs from polio as there are of kids with permanent brain damage and seizure disorders from vaccine injury. And these stories on both sides are awful, tragic and compelling.

But fewer than 200 measles cases and no deaths in a population of 320,000,000 people (40,000,000 people in California alone) does NOT constitute a danger to everyone, or even a credible potential threat to the public that warrants taking away peoples’ Constitutional rights.

To believe such is irrational, paranoid thinking.

Of course, if ebola or smallpox were the issue, level B would be required because these diseases truly are extremely virulent, always lethal without treatment, and clearly a “direct danger to everyone.” Such an outbreak may even require intervention at the federal level (Level A), depending on the circumstances. But like chicken pox or scarlet fever, measles has always been considered a relatively mild, childhood illness in the U.S. that has never warranted curtailing civil or religious rights at level A or B.

Not even close.

However, the irrational fear gripping this country over a disease in which no one has died (and would not even make the top 100 diseases currently affecting Americans), is being used as a justification to expand government intrusion into our private lives, suspend basic human and civil rights, and grant broad new police powers.

This is what we really should fear.

The Math Doesn’t Add Up to Mandates

Prior to the introduction of the vaccine, 3-4 million cases of measles occurred in the United States each year. Of those 3-4 million cases, only about 450-500 people died each year, according to the CDC public record. Doing basic math, that makes the percentage of people who died from measles of all of the measles cases back then a mere 0.015%.

Also, consider that in 1963, the population was 189,241,798. That means that prior to the vaccine, the percentage of the entire U.S. population that died from measles was .000237%. This means that before the vaccine was even available, you had a greater risk of committing suicide than you did of dying of measles. 

Even with 3-4 million Americans catching measles in 1963, and 16,400 cases during a resurgence between 1989–1991 (which led to giving two doses of MMR), philosophical and religious exemptions were available, even if they were kept an “open secret” to discourage people from using them. While every death is tragic, even at the height of measles infection, it wasn’t the kind of public health emergency that required a one-size-fits-all medical mandate from the government.

Yet, despite 2014 vaccination rates of 93%—the highest in history—bills to remove conscientious and religious exemptions to any vaccination on the CDC schedule required today or determined necessary in the future have been introduced or passed in California, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

But the media would have us all believe that one tiny school in California with most of the kids in the kindergarten class unvaccinated—a total of 13 children—will determine fate of a state with almost 40 million people. This is of course ridiculous.

Exempt Does Not Mean Unvaccinated

2.54% of school age children filed Personal Belief Exemptions in 2014. This number has decreased from the previous year. Only a small fraction within those 2.54% are actually unvaccinated because missing even one shot requires you to take a personal belief exemption. (Click to enlarge image.)


It would seem that we’ve put paranoia ahead of freedom and reason.

Medical exemptions in states that pass these laws will largely be determined not by doctors who know their patients, but by CDC criteria, and will be nearly impossible to get. This one-size-fits-all medical policy will greatly compromise effective doctor-patient relationships.

It is difficult to conceive of a public health crisis that would warrant granting the government the power to inject any substance into human beings without their consent. But in the event of such a crisis, that power should be limited and concise and the substance injected should be beyond reproach as safe and effective.

Let’s Play Devil’s Advocate

If the fear of communicable infection justifies mandatory vaccine laws, then why do we not first force the approximately 85% of adults who are essentially unvaccinated to get their shots (including flu) or lose their jobs?

According to the National Vaccine Program (NVP), current pertussis vaccination rates are between 8.7% of Hispanic adults to a high of 16.1% for white adults. And despite the fact that children are not at risk for hepatitis B infection (a primarily sexually transmitted disease), most infants are vaccinated against the disease while the adult vaccination rate for hepatitis B is around 12%.

“While there is a perception that there are a large number of unvaccinated children in the United States, the NVP points out that childhood vaccination rates exceed 90% but that American adults ‘continue to be vaccinated at low and variable rates.'”

The majority of those infected with measles are adults. According to the numbers from California, of the confirmed measles cases in the state, 62 percent are adults over age 20. Indeed, almost all outbreaks of measles, mumps or pertussis in recent history have primarily effected vaccinated adults in highly vaccinated populations.

This means “herd immunity” for many diseases has been compromised by adults for decades. (And yet there have been no epidemics. Hmmmm.)

Since childhood vaccination rates are the highest they’ve ever been in history, but so few adults are vaccinated or up to date on boosters, if there is any problem at all, doesn’t it lie with adults?

Where is the outrage? Are you up to date on all your shots?

And if it is to be the law that everyone must be vaccinated according to the CDC schedule (even for diseases that are not readily contagious, like tetanus and hepatitis B), then why shouldn’t police officers be empowered to physically force resisters to receive a vaccine, at gunpoint or threat of imprisonment, like they did in Prince George’s county, Maryland or are currently doing in Samoa or Pakistan?

Do we really want Pakistan to be our role model?

And if we are indeed so worried about the most vulnerable among us, why shouldn’t we mandate criminal penalties and quarantine for people who go out in public with tuberculosis, norovirus, flu, strep throat, staph, scarlet fever, and other infectious illnesses that could be lethal to babies, elders or the immunocompromised?

According to public health officials, more than 1.2 million people in the U.S. are infected with HIV. Another 2 million have tuberculosis, and another 3 million have Hepatitis C. However, these children and adults are not banned from attending school, receiving medical care, being employed, raising their children, or otherwise participating fully in society. In fact, people with HIV and AIDS are protected by law against discrimination.

Yet, after a tiny measles outbreak which has killed no one, suddenly people are being pressured to abandon their Constitutional right to make informed, voluntary medical decisions about their own bodies.

Even worse, people are encouraging discrimination and extreme social sanctions against the very tiny number of parents who have vaccine-injured children, choose to not vaccinate, delay the CDC schedule, or simply opt out of a few shots (like Hepatitis B)*, while completely ignoring the incredibly high rate of unvaccinated adults.

*(If you miss or opt out of even one shot—like hepatitis B or tetanus—you are considered a vaccine exemption. This means that you will be counted as “unvaccinated”, even if you’ve had most of your shots. How’s that for skewing statistics to create panic?)

Let’s make sure we are actually addressing a real threat before we start taking away civil rights, putting people at any risk of medical injury (no matter how small), and giving the government power to mandate medical procedures at will.

A Very Scary Precedent – Why Vaccine Mandates are Dangerous

In the words of Dr. Lee Hieb, MD,

“If you think the government has the right to forcibly vaccinate people—for the good of society—what is to prevent them from forcibly sterilizing people, or forcibly euthanizing people, or forcibly implanting a tracking device—for the good of society?”

These examples may seem extreme, but they are no different in principle from the proposal that government force people to be vaccinated. In fact, two out of three have already happened…

A terrifying case-in-point:

In 1923, U.S. Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendall Holmes gave the green light to the state of Virginia to forcibly sterilize Carrie Buck, because doctors judged her to be mentally retarded. To justify his decision, justice Holmes cited a 1905 law requiring smallpox vaccination, and coldly proclaimed:

“The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the fallopian tubes.”

The Buck decision set the precedent for more than 60,000 forced sterilization operations in the United States and was cited at the Nuremberg trials in defense of Nazi sterilization experiments. It has never been overturned.

In the 21st century, this precedent has justified coerced sterilization, medical kidnapping, forced Cesearean sections, calling CPS on parents who choose to use natural medicine, arresting people for buying and selling raw milk, even kicking a little boy out of school for growing his hair long to donate to cancer patients!

By allowing vaccine mandates and other violations of your freedom of choice, you are allowing government to have ultimate authority over your body, in direct violation of your civil and human rights.

This. must. stop.

Fear or Freedom?

Fear of potential harm is never a justification for revoking the right to medical freedom and autonomy over one’s body.

We don’t preemptively arrest people because we fear they might perpetrate a crime one day. And similarly, we must not force or legally coerce people into medically risky or philosophically abhorrent procedures because we are irrationally afraid of the extremely improbable chance of a worst-case scenario (like a polio epidemic).

The bedrock of a free society is to leave decisions of lifestyle, education, prosperity and health (and their consequences) to consenting adults, until such time there might be a credible danger to everyone—and then to intervene minimally. To do otherwise is a slippery slope that opens the door to a paternalistic nanny-state at best, and fascism and medical tyranny at worst.

And given there is no credible threat to the general welfare happening, the argument that everyone must vaccinate their children for the good of the community is not only logically false and legally questionable, it is immoral and unethical. It is the argument all dictators and totalitarians have used. (“You must have only one child for the good of the community, Comrade.”)

If Americans don’t stand up against this, then we are lost.

Allowing the government to mandate any inherently risky medical procedure is condoning yet one more government intrusion into determining how we give birth and raise our children, what medications we must take for various conditions, what kinds of food we are allowed to eat, and more.

This is not the country I want to live in. Do you?

In the words of the Pacific Justice Institute:

“The rights of conscience, bodily integrity and self-determination are of the utmost importance and must not be eliminated on a broad basis for the asserted need to address a temporary and limited health scare… The negative effects of this heavy-handed overreaction will linger long after the short-lived and over-hyped outbreaks that supposedly necessitate it.”

Whether you choose to vaccinate, partially vaccinate or abstain is irrelevant: Medical freedom is relevant to everyone who wishes to make their own decisions about their health. Medical procedures that could incur side effects or death are decisions that should be made by you and your doctor, not by a one-size-fits-all State mandate.

I encourage you to stand for the freedom this country was built upon by contacting your local and national representatives and vocalizing your opposition to any bills in your state that take away your rights to informed consent and freedom of choice.

Additional Resources

Why the Press Shouldn’t Dismiss Vaccine Skeptics

Scientist and Stem Cell Expert Says Don’t Be So Quick to Believe Vaccines Are Safe

Understanding the misuse of vaccination exemption data to create hysteria and remove medical freedom

How vaccine hysteria could spark totalitarian nightmare

A pediatrician is disturbed and deeply troubled by the severe ethics violation of vaccine mandates

The vaccine culture war in America: Are you ready?

From Disneyland to Fantasyland: The Case against SB 277

About the author

Dawn Gifford

Dawn Gifford

Dawn is the creator of Small Footprint Family, and the author of the critically acclaimed Sustainability Starts at Home - How to Save Money While Saving the Planet. After a 20-year career in green building and environmental sustainability, chronic illness forced her to shift her expertise and passion from the public sphere to home and hearth. Get the whole story behind SFF here.


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  • Dawn, This was by far one of the best articles I’ve read on this issue. This was SB 277 days – we just lost SB 276, so it seems as if we’re marching right along and not enough people have read this excellent article. Thank you!

  • Thank you for this well thought out article! Excellent!
    It won’t be long before articles like this one will not be able to be seen by the public!
    Enjoy the Freedom and liberty while we still have them.

  • I was a fan of this website until I read this article. Comparing a vaccination regime to Hitler is completely ridiculous . You talk about how many people have tuberculosis yet you are still a proponent of raw milk. Anyway, i could go on for a long time. The point is if my kid gets sick because you didn’t vaccinate your kid as far as I am concerned that is negligence on your part.

    • If your kid is vaccinated, how on earth would they get sick? And why would my kid get sick just because they weren’t vaccinated? Most (82%) adults are unvaccinated or undervaccinated and they are not sick or spreading disease everywhere. I have never understood this line of thinking; it doesn’t make sense.

    • I don’t belief it’s the regiment she’s attacking–it’s the MANDATORY timeline and selection. If you live in CA and have a 2-month old and are returning to work, you are precluded from delaying AT all and will have to administer 8+ vaccines to an infant who is 60-days old.

      I’m 37-years old and I AM scared to have more than 1 vaccination at a time! And to administer to a child whose allergens are still yet unknown but being told you have NO CHOICE in the matter? It’s either inject your child and eat/have a roof over your head or quit your job and potentially be homeless/starve. This is a terrifying time to be a parent.

    • And if others had kids who got sick or died from getting vaccinated to satisfy you, then I would assume they could blame you. BTW, in the past 10 years, no one in U.S. has died from measles, but at least 80 have died from the vaccine….because of people like you. How does that make you feel? The blame game isn’t very nice!

    • If your kids are vaccinated and the vaccines work your kids will not be infected. However if the vaccines don’t really work then everyone could be at risk. Eat healthy organic food clean water plenty of fresh air . And your system will be very good at fending for itself. Because most the vaccines are for infections that have a very low death rate . Where as vaccine have a much higher number of causing negative side affects including death. Read the full insert it says right on it death is one of the side affects. Can you imagine how those parents feel giving their child a vaccine and with ion a few minutes or hours or days their child is dead. My heart bleeds for them! All pharmaceuticals have negative side affects that affect some but not all peoples because we are all different we don’t know who will be negatively affected or how bad. That’s why some people can take life saving antibiotics and other have severe allergic reaction and die. There is always a cost benefit analysis hopefully before it’s too late.

    • That’s ridiculous….. Please do your homework. If your kids are vaccinated then it shouldn’t make a difference if people around them are or are not. Also, the virus actaully sheds for two weeks once the vaccine is given, so anyone who got the shot can give it someone simply because they got the shot. That is why people are not allowed to enter hospitals rooms if they recently received vaccines within a two week period.

  • “only about 450-500 people died each year”

    ONLY? Are you really that callous regarding human life that you think saving 500 lives isn’t worth putting your arm out for a jab twice when your a kid?

    Of course you are ignoring the thousands who will develop encephalitis and deafness, and the tens of thousands who will develop pneumonia and require hospitalization, among sundry other complications (and that is not counting mumps and rubella).

    The freedom to swing your fists ends at the tip of my nose. When you refuse to vaccinate yourself or your children, you are placing others at risk of injury and death. That is a very selfish position.

    The irony is that the only reason you and other anti-vax “health freedom” crusaders have the bliss of ignorance to spread falsehoods regarding the seriousness of measles, is because vaccines have been so successful in eliminating these diseases from the public consciousness.

    Lastly, your heading photo and the following are complete stawmen: “suddenly people are being pressured to abandon their Constitutional right to make informed, voluntary medical decisions about their own bodies.”

    Nowhere…I repeat…NOWHERE is anyone proposing mandatory vaccines. If you want to be an idiot and skip vaccines in your kids, then fine, be an idiot. Just don’t sent them to school and put the rest of our children at risk for these deadly and easily preventable diseases.

    Curt W
    Physician and immunologist

    • The ad hominem attack is unnecessary, sir. You have missed the point of the post, entirely, and seem to not have even read it. This is not a pro or anti-vaccine argument. It is a constitutional one. Withholding tax-payer funded education is a form of coercion and discrimination, and in Maryland they actually did threaten jail time for not vaccinating, which is force. Since the Supreme Court has ruled vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe”, mandates are unconstitutional, especially when there is no public health emergency in states where children have a constitutional right to public education.

      While every death is tragic, 400-500 deaths at the peak of 5 million measles infections is a tiny percentage. Measles didn’t even make the top 100 of diseases people have to worry about before vaccination. Far more children die in car accidents every year. Should we make it illegal to put children in cars? THAT really would be protecting the greater good, since cars are far more dangerous than the tiny minority who are selectively vaccinating. Despite there being 1-2% children who selectively vaccinate, and more than half of all adults unvaccinated in the population for decades now, there have been no epidemics. Most people vaccinate their children and will continue to do so. And they don’t need threat of jail or loss of the right to education to do it. This isn’t going to change.

      The question remains: Should vaccination be between a doctor and her patient, or an open-ended, one-size-fits all schedule mandated by the state? Why is a kid with tuberculosis legally allowed to go to school (and there are 3 million people with TB roaming in public as I speak), but a kid who has been vaccinated for everything but Hepatitis B is NOT allowed to go to school if these mandates pass? THAT’S how these laws are being written, and it’s discriminatory. They do not make sense medically, legally or ethically, and they undermine the doctor-patient relationship.

    • Curt W “The Physician and Immunologist”,

      Ohh your title should make us all believe what you are saying right?
      Do not come here insulting our intelligence with the same statements that come from the inserts in vaccines and the training you get on what to say to parents by pharmaceutical representatives and of course the almighty Med school. Doc those days are over. We are no longer blind folded to follow what big pharma and their puppets aka Physicians have to say.
      Have you noticed on how many labs are now allowing consumers to order their own tests? Humm.. I think you ought get on patients team else you are going to be looking for a new job soon “doc”. Here you go as a reminder of what YOU are doing to society after taking an oath to do No harm: I’d love to hear what you have to say after this bomb shell:

      It is clear that you didn’t read the article, but why would you if the profits, perks, and everything else pharma is giving you–right now is more important– well that is until your children or grand children (God forbid receive a vaccine injury).

      What the article is trying to convey is that we all deserve the right to choose. And by the way– “doc” California and Vermont and other states just passed Bill SB277 & SB792 for forced vaccinations. Have you been living under a rock to state that (Nowhere…I repeat…NOWHERE is anyone proposing mandatory vaccines…)
      . Have you read the real news lately? Oh no wait, I forgot that you guys only watch main stream media propaganda paid for by drum roll please… Big Pharma. Ta daaa!

      For your information I had mumps, measles and chicken pox and probably measles and so did all of my siblings, cousins and pretty much all of my friends in the 80’s– and we all made it. Coincidence hu?

      Thousands who will develop encephalitis? Where is this again and where do you get your stats from?
      I am not anti-vaccinations and neither is the author from what I can READ. I am pro-choice, I want to have the right to decided whether to inject my children when and how– not you or the government.

      Finally, calling the author names and insulting her only makes you look exactly like you called her. Yeah one more Physician/ Immunologist that lost credibility– not like you had much to begin with.

      Finally why are you worried about unvaccinated children if your poisoned.. {cough} vaccinated children are supposed to be protected?

      To the author,
      Thanks so much for the thorough and exceptionally written article.
      It is incredibly hard to understand how society accepts such atrocity to humanity. Everyone should remember that those communist countries, the holocaust and the like started just like this. By taking their rights away… l i t t l e b y l i t t l e. I will and have shared it with thousands of readers across my social media channels, just so the doctor and his money hungry colleagues loose even more credibility.

  • Thank you. I’ve been reading about vaccination for close on 20 years and this is one of the best articles I’ve encountered. You are spot on. This is not about vaccination. This is about human rights.

  • your lead photo is propaganda. pure propaganda. nobody anywhere is holding anybody down by the hair and forcible injecting them with vaccines. this is rank fear-mongering and you ought to be ashamed of deliberately doing what you claim vaccination supporters are doing. only what you are doing is more crude, deceptive and dishonest.

    • Actually, this happens in other countries all the time, and we should be very scared that it could happen here. Pakistan is vaccinating people at gunpoint right now, using oral polio vaccine that was banned from use in the U.S. because of complications, like polio. In recent U.S. history, compulsory vaccine laws have been used to justify forced sterilization, and other forced medical procedures, including using full, physical, armed police force to remove children from their homes because the state disagreed with their parent’s medical choices. Do read the article. This issue is about the right to make one’s own medical decisions in concert with one’s doctor, not to have procedures forced by the state.