no other country requires as many childhood vaccines as the U.S., but the legal edifice shoring up the compulsory childhood vaccine program is surprisingly flimsy. As New York University legal scholar Mary Holland explains in a 2010 working paper, this edifice relies primarily on two century-old Supreme Court decisions—from 1905 and 1922—and on the game-changing National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) of 1986, which fundamentally altered the legal landscape for vaccination by exempting vaccine manufacturers and medical practitioners from liability for childhood vaccine injuries. The 1986 Act, in particular, resulted in an absence of legal protections for vaccinated children that is “striking compared to almost all other medical interventions.” Examining the legal trajectory of vaccine mandates since 1905, Holland argues that current childhood mandates are not only radically different from what the earlier courts and legislators envisioned but are “unreasonable and oppressive and have led to…perverse results” that do not safeguard children’s rights and health.

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