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(Happy Despite Them) – 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 around ten years ago – and not without some careful orchestration that in hindsight looks rather fishy. 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, but 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 don’t really 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 left 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 in number. 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 the right to receive care at a hospital over vaccine status – because that is just not true.
Reprinted with permission from Happy Despite Them
Leila Marie Lawler is the author of The Summa Domestica: Order and Wonder in Family Life, recently published by Sophia Institute Press. She blogs at Like Mother, Like Daughter. This article was published on her site Happy Despite Them.