Yes to mandates — 1905 court ruling still guides us
Over a century ago, as you noted in two recent editorials (“Massachusetts should follow New York City’s lead on vaccine requirements,” Aug. 15; and “A shot for a brighter future,” Aug. 18), a smallpox epidemic was raging and the Cambridge Board of Health mandated that residents be vaccinated or pay a fine. Henning Jacobson, a local pastor, sued, arguing that the law was oppressive. The US Supreme Court affirmed the law, ruling in 1905 that “the rights of the individual in respect of his liberty may at times, under the pressure of great dangers, be subjected to such restraint, to be enforced by reasonable regulations, as the safety of the general public may demand.”
As the Delta variant spreads, our community is again embroiled in discussions about keeping each other safe. With federal and state policy makers kicking high-stakes public health decisions to local municipalities, we in Cambridge have had to develop policies for schools and the city based on rapidly evolving scientific knowledge. Following the lead of public health experts, we advocate requiring COVID-19 vaccines for all city staff including in schools (unless exempted for medical or religious reasons).
We recognize that these are high-stakes decisions. That’s precisely why we speak out. Society routinely limits individual actions to safeguard the public. The 1905 Supreme Court ruling is as valid today as it was then: Our community’s health is on the line. Vaccine mandates are necessary.
Weinstein serves on the Cambridge School Committee and Nolan on the Cambridge City Council.
Keep pressing on vaccination
Thank you to Globe editors and staff for the dramatic wraparound cover of Wednesday’s front section: “The last best shot. It’s time.”
Thanks for not giving up.
New York City has the right idea
Re “Massachusetts should follow New York City’s lead on vaccine requirements” (Editorial, Aug. 15): It seems that the response in New York — requiring proof of vaccination for entry to bars, restaurants, gyms, etc. — absolutely should be implemented in Massachusetts. Why should business owners and their employees be continually exposed to this virus and its variants due to selfish behaviors of others who do not want to be vaccinated? If someone in Massachusetts walked into one of these places with a lit match or a gun, you can be assured that police would be called in to remove the perpetrator of a life-threatening event. COVID-19 is no different.
Susan M. Schmidt
Sincere thanks for last Sunday’s editorial urging city and state adoption of vaccination confirmation similar to that in New York City. Simple common sense, combined with an ability to see and comprehend life from a broad perspective, clearly points to adopting a similar requirement in Massachusetts as soon as possible.