To Lesley Neuman:

I could not agree more with the concept of being responsible for one’s self if that was all there was to it. Unfortunately, reality says that with respect to infectious diseases, what you do affects those around you. You can easily, without knowing (i.e. being asymptomatic), pass on COVID to others.

There is a long history of debate and conflict about the power of government to require vaccination. In an interesting anecdote, in February 1777 George Washington required the soldiers under his command be inoculated against smallpox. This proved to be a critical factor in subsequent battles against the British, as few American soldiers were incapacitated by the virus, which was not the case prior to this action. (

In 1905 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the authority of states to enforce compulsory vaccination laws. The court declared that the Massachusetts law did not violate the Constitution and affirmed that “in every well-ordered society charged with the duty of conserving the safety of its members the rights of the individual in respect of his liberty may at times, under the pressure of great dangers, be subjected to such restraint.” They also determined that mandatory vaccinations were neither arbitrary nor oppressive if they do not exceed what is “reasonably required for the safety of the public.” (

As a personal anecdote, my maternal grandfather died of the flu in January 1919. I am convinced it was because he had just prior traveled through Denver. Denver was notorious for having prematurely “opened” up and dropping many of its prevention requirements against the flu pandemic at the time.

So, Lesley, can I ask you why you are so cavalier about potentially condemning someone else’s grandfather to death because of your actions? If only your actions stayed in your own personal space — but they don’t unless you adopt the lifestyle of a hermit.

Harold Weight


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