Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) received a history lesson on Twitter on Monday after making an incorrect claim about vaccines in the United States.
As doctors and public health officials struggle to encourage more people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, the lawmaker tweeted:
But many were quick to point out that vaccine mandates were so American that there might not have been an America without an early form of such a mandate. As PoliticFact previously noted, Gen. George Washington ordered his troops to be inoculated against smallpox in 1777 via a precursor to vaccination called variolation.
Healthline reported last month that school vaccine mandates have existed in the United States since the 1850s when the first one was enacted in Massachusetts to stop the spread of smallpox.
And Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University, told NPR last week that the Supreme Court upheld vaccine mandates more than a century ago.
“That was something where the Supreme Court said that we don’t have a right to place other people at risk,” Gostin said. “And by 1922, in another case, Justice Brandeis, writing for unanimous court, upheld childhood school mandates, calling it settled law.”
Gostin added that the notion of a nationwide vaccine mandate was a misconception as they are “traditionally imposed by cities and states.” Vaccines are also mandated by schools, the military and others.
Jordan’s critics were quick to pounce on his comment. Some offered to correct the record on vaccinations. Others pointed out that it was un-American to support an insurrection on the U.S. government, given his attempts to tank investigations into the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. And still others noted the allegations that Jordan, who was an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University, ignored molestation claims against the team’s doctor. Although Jordan denied those charges, several athletes have corroborated the story: