Freedom and Forced Vaccinations Can’t Coexist

The swine flu, or H1N1 virus, has been declared a “pandemic” by the World Health Organization. In response to fears of the flu spreading, many government health agencies have stepped up to the plate and are now rushing vaccines into the marketplace. European health officials have declared that lives potentially lost through largely untested vaccines are worth the gamble in order to save lives. The Greek government recently announced its intentions to vaccinate all 12 million of its citizens, “without any exception.”

The swine flu outbreak of 1976 is not often brought up in the current H1N1 discussion. In February 1976 one soldier, Private David Lewis, died from and several of his peers fell ill to the swine flu in Fort Nix, New Jersey. Due to the strength and the quickness with which the flu could potentially spread, President Gerald Ford ordered nationwide vaccinations, which started up in October 1976. However, soon after receiving the vaccinations, roughly 500 people were developing a disease paralyzing the nerves, Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). Private Lewis ended up being the only individual to die directly from the swine flu itself, while more than 25 people died because of the vaccinations. After more than 40 million people received vaccinations, the $137 million program was canceled on December 16.

The reasoning behind massive mandatory vaccinations, particularly today (as well as 30 years ago) with the swine flu, is to avoid another disaster such as the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic which killed millions of individuals around the world. This despite recent research suggests that the swine and Spanish flu may not be as connected as previously thought, primarily because the swine flu is spread through pigs, while the Spanish flu is passed from birds to humans.

I am not downplaying the positive effects that some vaccines have had on humanity. I am simply questioning the principle of compulsory vaccinations, coerced medical care, and forceful quarantines supposedly justified by government-declared health emergencies. These have been the topics of increased discussion of the WHO and many government health agencies around the world, and certainly are not to be dismissed as mere crackpot theories.

Mandatory vaccinations limit the soundness and viability of vaccinations. If a certain vaccination is proven to prevent disease, increase strength of health, and protect the body, clearly it would not require force to be implemented in society. The very idea of mandatory vaccinations implies that you must impose on someone’s beliefs, preferences, and reasoning.

If an individual decides to reject a vaccination that the majority of people are receiving, how does his decision impact others? If the vaccinations are effective and voluntarily received by many people, the individual is only placing himself at risk. If people feel they are exposing themselves to too great of a risk by not taking a vaccine, they are free by all means to get a vaccine. Individuals receive or decline vaccinations at their own risk.

As far as the swine flu situation goes, people will not need a government mandate or forceful coercion to take a vaccine if they feel a major potential risk is looming. In the case of 1976 it was government officials who determined that the swine flu might turn into a disastrous situation, and in turn imposed their frights on millions of Americans. The actions the government carried out were primarily based on the information and beliefs of unelected officials who felt it was worth the risk to potentially sacrifice lives in the name of protecting people against a possible disaster.

The idea that if someone doesn’t take a vaccine they are therefore a potential risk to other individuals makes no sense whatsoever. If one group of people chooses to get vaccinated while another group declines the opportunity, the vaccinated group is supposed to be protected against that particular disease. They are not put in danger by those who decided to opt out of the vaccine. They are also taking the chance that they could possibly grow more ill from the injection. In the event of a true pandemic you can bet that if proven vaccines are available, the majority of people will choose to get vaccinated; you do not need government officials determining the weight of different risks. It is the responsibility and free choice of the individual, plain and simple.

The Merriam-Webster definition of freedom is “the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action.” Can anyone seriously defend the potential policies of mandatory vaccinations and still make the argument that we live in a free country? Freedom does not suddenly become a doormat to new and abusive government powers in times of potential health problems as declared by government; last I checked the Constitution, anyway.

It is illogical to expect government to constitutionally take on the job of keeping people healthy. It is the responsibility of the individual, not government, to decide what food to eat, which medications are most helpful, and whether or not to receive vaccines. The federal government has already attempted to regulate and control substances in this way through the Drug War, and it has not lessened drug use or violence. Whenever government has tried to protect individuals from themselves it has always failed and led to far worse consequences.

The reality is that it cannot be up to government officials and politicians to decide when or if a vaccination will truly protect the individual. Who can push away the possibility that politicians aren’t trying to score a victory for the pharmaceutical companies providing the vaccines? The potential for deadly abuse of mandatory vaccinations alone proves the insanity of giving the president, Congress, or a government agency the power to mandate medications and vaccinations.

No person or group, no matter how powerful, has the moral or legal authority to force or deny substances like vaccines and drugs. The 5th Amendment mandates that no one is to “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” while the 4th Amendment protects the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” Whether it’s an individual or government holding a gun to your head, mandatory vaccinations are an unequivocal infringement on free will, choice, and individual discretion.

Mandatory vaccinations destroy individual liberty, individual sovereignty, and any concept of freedom. If the vaccinations the government feels must be forced on the entire country are as fantastic as officials claim, force and coercion certainly would not be necessary to convince people of their benefits.

Vaccinations must treated and managed like any other good or service: through individual choice, discretion, responsibility, and freedom. It is the only method that guarantees the absolute control is where it belongs: with the individual.

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