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JAMA Revisited
April 23/30, 2019

Medicolegal: Conditions Warranting Requirement of Vaccination

JAMA. 2019;321(16):1638. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.15308

Originally Published April 26, 1919 | JAMA. 1919;72(17):1247- 1248.

(Hagler et al. v. Lamer et al. (III.), 120 N. E. R. 575)

The Supreme Court of Illinois affirms a decree that dismissed as without equity a bill of complaint whereby it was sought to enjoin the defendants from preventing the complainants from attending the public schools of Granite City unless they were first vaccinated, according to a resolution adopted by the local board of health that all children should be excluded from the public schools for a period of two weeks unless recently vaccinated, or unless they produced a certificate that they had been successfully vaccinated within the past five years or had had smallpox. The court says that the exact question raised in this case seems never to have been passed on directly by this court, as it appeared from the stipulations that smallpox was epidemic and prevalent in Granite City, and that there actually existed a large number of cases of smallpox when the resolution was passed and enforced, and that the board, acting under the authority conferred by a city ordinance, passed the resolution for the purpose of preventing the spread of the disease and of preserving the health of the citizens. The rule is firmly established in Illinois that school directors and boards of education have no authority to exclude children from the public school on the ground, simply, that they refuse to be vaccinated, unless in cases of emergency, in the exercise of the police power, it is necessary or reasonably appears to be necessary to prevent the contagion of smallpox. But it appeared in the cases wherein that rule was established that there was no epidemic or prevalence of smallpox and that the pupils were in a healthy condition and had not been exposed to smallpox, and this court held it to be unreasonable to require vaccination as a prerequisite to admission to the public schools in such cases, and that there was no law of the state of Illinois authorizing such action.