KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

In Massachusetts, Fears About Public Health Vaccination Proposal

The Boston Globe reports on the dramatic and fearful response to a "seemingly prosaic piece" of pending Massachusetts state legislation "that aims to better define - and, in some respects, restrict - the emergency powers of the state's public health officials."

"Within the bill's arcane language, a 16-month-old activist coalition sees government authority run amok: mandated vaccinations, quarantines, arrests, fines. Swine flu, they warn, will be the virus that opens the door to the public health police. 'We have a concern that we will be forced to be quarantined if we refuse the vaccine,' said Laura Jackson, president of the Liberty Preservation Association of Massachusetts, which mustered 30 to 40 members for the lobbying drive." 

Public health authorities say that the group's concerns are unfounded, [b]ut the association's multimedia campaign - aired over talk radio and its website - compelled state Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach to send an italicized, bold-faced missive to legislators, stressing that 'mandatory vaccination is not and has never been part of the plan or discussion in Massachusetts' pandemic response.'"

"In the opposition to Massachusetts' revised public health emergency law, as well as in the combustible health care town hall meetings that greeted some members of Congress this summer, analysts see more than traditional conservative concerns about individual liberty and big government" (Smith, 9/17).

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