In this time of great sadness, fear and confusion,
Americans have a choice to make: either we defend the individual freedoms
our forefathers fought and died to give us,
or we sacrifice those freedoms and let the terrorists win.
What we choose to do will define who we are as a nation
for many years to come.

by Barbara Loe Fisher

   The terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001 and the subsequent threats of biological warfare against US citizens have prompted calls by public health officials to prepare for mass vaccination campaigns for anthrax and smallpox.1,2 National vaccination programs targeting civilians, including children, are being proposed in model state legislation that would give public health officials the power to use the state militia to enforce vaccination during state-declared health emergencies.3,4 While it is critical for the US to have a sound, workable plan to respond to an act of bioterrorism, as well as enough safe and effective vaccines stockpiled for every American who wants to use them, there are legitimate concerns about a plan which forces citizens to use vaccines without their voluntary, informed consent.   

   All mass vaccination campaigns result in casualties because every vaccine, like every drug, carries an inherent risk of injury or death.5,6,7,8,9 Some individuals are genetically or biologically more vulnerable to vaccine reactions than others,10 but there are few reliable biomarkers to predict who they are5,6,7,8,9which is why legally protecting the informed consent rights of all citizens becomes a moral imperative. The human right to be fully informed about all known and unknown risks, as well as benefits, of any medical intervention and make a voluntary decision about whether to take the risk, has been the centerpiece of bioethics ever since the Nuremberg Code was adopted after World War II 11 and the doctrine of informed consent was introduced into U.S. case law in 1957.12 

Barbara Loe Fisher’s Vaccination report continues here.