Jacobson vs. Massachusetts Assignment

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Jacobsonvs. MassachusettsAssignment

ASocial Contract

Asocial contract is described as an arrangement in which the stateauthorities have the responsibilities of ensuring that individuals,as well as the entire society, maintain appropriate health status andstandards. This implies that the state has the right to executehealth inspection initiatives in the community, and the citizens haveduties and responsibilities towards each other and the entirecommunity as a whole. In the caseJacobson vs. Massachusetts, the Supreme Court held that a state mayoblige health people to be subjected to an effective vaccination whena prevalent epidemic such as a disease endangers the population(Johnson, Krause, Saver &amp Wilson, 2009). In the case, the boardof health required everyone to get a vaccination against smallpox andanyone failing to comply with the order to be fined. Jacobson refusedto comply with the order and was consequently fined. He appealed tothe Supreme Court, which upheld the decision of the lower court. Inthe ruling, the supreme court upheld the state’s authority to grantthe health board powers to order such a vaccination. This impliesthat the state through the health board has an obligation tosafeguard the health of the population where it deems that there is arisk (Annas,2002).This is a social contract.

Relationshipbetween the social, political, and economic factors influencinghealth care

Thereis a significant relationship between social, political, and economicaspects influencing health care. At the present, the major causes ofdeaths include chronic illnesses and trauma (Svobodaet al., 2004).These are mostly influenced by several factors including environment,work, social, economic aspects and behavioral traits among thepopulation. The social, economic factors will determine the type ofhealth care a person receives and the type of life and diet a persongets. These aspects eventually dictate the health status of anindividual. The political situation of a country will determine theregulations of various issues affecting the health of the population.Such issues include health and safety at workplaces, the powers ofstate organs such as health boards and the type of health care plansto be given to the citizens. The combination of all these factorswill determine the health care status of the citizens.

StakeholderInterests on Free Markets

Themajor stakeholder in overseeing appropriate public health standardsis the state. The state has all the powers to inspect and ensure thatthe health status of the population is in the right order. It alsoempowers other state organs such as the health boards to ensure thatthe population does not experience an uncontrolled epidemic. Theboard of health is thus another major stakeholder. In Jacobson vs.Massachusetts case, the courts held that the board of health hadacted in the appropriate manner by finding vaccination a suitablemeans to control smallpox (Albert,Ostheimer &amp Breman, 2001).The court ruled that it was the responsibility of the board to useany appropriate method to curb the impending menace so long as themeans used was sensibleand not oppressive. This thus implies thatthe courts also play a great role in the execution of socialcontracts towards maintaining appropriate health standards. Inabsence of the courts, there would be no one to interpret theresponsibilities and duties of the state as well as health boardstowards maintaining a healthy population. The citizens too are amajor stakeholder towards the entire process. The citizens need tocooperate and collaborate with state institutions such as healthboards to ensure a healthy population. The other stakeholders aredoctors, nurses and other medical practitioners. These will bedirectly involved in ensuring the health boards meet their goals andobjectives.


AlbertMR, Ostheimer KG, &amp Breman JG. (2001). The last smallpox epidemicin Boston and the vaccination controversy, 1901–1903.&nbspNewEngl J Med.&nbsp344:375–379

AnnasG.J. (2002). Bioterrorism, public health and civil liberties.&nbspNewEngl J Med.46:1337– 1342.

Johnson,S. H., Krause, J.H. Saver, R.S. , &amp Wilson, R.F. (2009).&nbspHealthLaw Bioethics.New York: Aspen

SvobodaT, et al. (2004). Public health measures to control the spread of thesevere acute respiratory syndrome during outbreak in Toronto.&nbspNewEngl J Med.&nbsp2352–2361.

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