Dorit Rubinstein Reiss
|Dorit Rubinstein Reiss|
|Residence||San Francisco Bay Area|
|Education||Hebrew University of Jerusalem|
|Alma mater||University of California, Berkeley|
|Occupation||Professor of Law|
|Known for||Advocacy of immunization|
Dorit Rubinstein Reiss is a Professor of Law at UC Hastings College of Law. She has also worked for the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Israeli Ministry of Justice’s Department of Public Law.
Reiss has become known for her work on legal issues regarding vaccination policies, and she has called for examination of the possible legal liabilities which should be faced by parents who opt for non-vaccination, including those who obtain legal exemptions. She is also noted for her support of California Senate Bill 277, which cut back on exemptions to vaccination requirements for enrollment in California schools and daycare centers. She has expressed her views in numerous journals, panels and blogs.
Dorit Reiss obtained her undergraduate degree in law and political science from the Faculty of Law at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She would later serve as editor-in-chief of the Law Review for the same institution. After her graduation, Reiss worked for the Israeli Ministry of Justice’s Department of Public Law.
Reiss received her PhD from the Jurisprudence and Social Policy program at UC Berkeley. While studying there, Reiss worked as a teacher's assistant and won the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award.
Professor Reiss's dissertation focused on the accountability of the telecommunications and electricity sectors in England, France, and Sweden. Her later research also dealt with accountability, in this case concerning agencies at state, national, and international levels in the United States and Europe.
Reiss's professional focus includes accountability, health care, social policies, and law. Since 2010, she has become better known for her work on the legal issues surrounding vaccination and health care policies.
Early activism in defense of vaccination
Reiss's focus on immunization advocacy started in 2010, with the birth of her son. There had been stories on the news about a whooping cough epidemic, which prompted Reiss to seek advice from her doctor on how to protect her child. As her son was too young, the doctor's advice was to undergo immunization herself, as it is the only way to protect very young children from vaccine-preventable diseases.
The birth of Reiss's son also motivated her to read parenting blogs in her spare time. In one of those blogs, Reiss came across an article about the resurgence of measles and myths about the MMR vaccine. Reiss discovered that one of the readers of the article had posted a comment with common anti-vaccination claims. The fact of someone being against immunization surprised Reiss, familiar with the history of how currently vaccine-preventable diseases used to affect and kill many people. After that first encounter with anti-vaccine arguments, Reiss started reading more about the claims made by people opposing vaccines and the refutations provided by experts. She became convinced that the answers given by scientists were solid and powerful. Reiss commenced her pro-vaccination activism by commenting on different websites and social media.
Reiss has expressed that her defense of immunization is driven by her desire to protect both children and adults from vaccine-preventable diseases. Reiss has shown a commitment to inform the general public about the health and financial costs that could emerge as a consequence of non-vaccination by engaging in conversation with different media. In her own words:
Vaccines protect children, and safeguard the public health. Being a part of those that work to promote immunization rates gives me a purpose. Something to do that means something. I’ve met amazing people in this journey – people with large hearts, brilliant minds, dedication and selflessness. I’m very proud to know them, and am amazed to be a part of some of these groups.
Reiss's pro-immunization activities also include the creation of a blog called Before Vaccines, where she has been documenting stories of people who experienced diseases that were common in pre-vaccination times, detailing the symptoms, complications and the many times life-changing consequences of illnesses such as chickenpox, mumps, influenza and polio. People sharing their memories with Reiss describe some of the health and social burdens they or their family members had to endure as a consequence of now preventable illnesses. Reiss's aim is to educate the public about the potential effects of vaccine-preventable diseases with which people are no longer familiar.
Reiss also collaborates with the organization Voices for Vaccines', where she acts as a member of its Parents Advisory Board.
Legal work in defense of vaccination
Her academic work has addressed some of the legal issues surrounding vaccination, including the controversy surrounding legal exemptions and liabilities of non-vaccinating parents. Reiss has collaborated with various academic journals and participated in panel discussions and blogs. Her views have also been quoted in several online newspapers and websites.
One of Reiss's main arguments is that parents who do not vaccinate their children are liable if their child transmits a vaccine-preventable disease to other people. She claims that the need of a compensation exists in such cases, and that legal exemptions are not a barrier for liability. Reiss developed this idea in her article ″Compensating the Victims of Failure to Vaccinate: What are the options?″, in which she presents the case of a non-vaccinated 11-year-old child who was taken to a surgery in Germany, and who infected six other patients with measles. This would eventually cause the death of two infants who were too young to be vaccinated. Reiss believes parents of children who become infected through a non-vaccinated child should have the right to a compensation on the grounds of negligence.
Reiss has also questioned the validity of religious exemptions. She has argued that parents in the United States of America who refuse to vaccinate their children on the grounds of religion are abusing the law and are falsely presenting their reasons as religious, when they are actually based on a personal belief. Reiss points out that major religions actually support vaccination. Reiss suggests three possible solutions to the problem of people abusing religious exemptions: tightening the requirements for religious exemptions, stopping all non-medical exemptions, or only allowing personal belief exemptions. She has shown preference only for a personal belief exemption, albeit a narrow one which would require a demanding process to be granted.
In 2015, Reiss and coauthors Charlotte A. Moser and Robert L. Schwartz published a paper with the title ″Funding the Costs of Disease Outbreaks Caused by Non Vaccination″, in which they propose the creation of a no-fault fund paid by parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. This fund would act as a tax which would cover the public health costs generated as a consequence of non-vaccination. Another alternative would be billing parents if it is determined that their failure to vaccinate caused an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease. The authors sent their proposal to Democratic Senators Ben Allen and Richard Pan.
Reiss has also expressed her support for the California Senate Bill 277, proposed after the measles outbreak occurred in Disneyland in 2014, which would end vaccine exemptions other than medical for children attending school and child care centers. She has been invited on numerous occasions to comment on this Bill. In these interactions, she has addressed topics such as the priorities of vaccination policy, public health, herd immunity, religious exemptions and liability. One of Reiss's main reasons to support the Bill comes from the fact that sending non-vaccinated children to school would put both the non-immunized child and the other children at risk. She has also declared it is unfair that the financial burden of a vaccine-preventable disease falls on the shoulders of others, when negligent parents are directly to blame. Reiss has also stated that vaccine policy needs to take in account the rights of parents to make medical decisions for their children, the state's interest to promote public health, and children's rights.
In April 2015, Reiss gave her testimony on SB 277 before the Senate Judiciary Committee. In her testimony, she primarily focused on the legislature's leeway to require school immunization, and the lack of necessity for non-medical exemptions.
- "Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law". UC Hastings.
- "Index of Articles by Guest Author-Prof. Dorit Rubinstein Reiss". The Skeptical Raptor. 9 June 2015. Retrieved 13 July 2015.
- "Reiss CV" (PDF). UC Hastings.
- "Parents have no rights to expose other kids" (PDF). Daily Journal.
- "Panel of Health, legal experts to address undervaccination in California". UC Berkeley News Center. February 26, 2015.
- "The Costs of the Fight Against the HPV Vaccine". Moms Who Vax. 4 December 2013.
- "The Disneyland measles crisis: how to make negligent parents pay". Los Angeles Times. 28 January 2015.
- "Measles Outbreak: California Bill Would End All Vaccination Exemptions". San Jose Mercury News. 20 February 2015.
- "Measles outbreak: California bill would end all vaccination loopholes except medical". Statesman Journal. 13 March 2015. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- "Immunization Heroes: Dorit Reiss". MOMunizations. 27 May 2014.
- "Katie Couric Promotes Anticancer Vaccine Alarmism". Forbes. 12 April 2013.
- "Before Vaccines". Before Vaccines.
- "Voices for Vaccines". Voices for Vaccines.
- Reiss, Dorit Rubinstein (2014). "Compensating the Victims of Failure to Vaccinate: What are the options?" (PDF). Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy. Cornell Law School. 23: 595–633. Retrieved July 30, 2015.
- "Democracy Now!- February 5, 2015". Democracy Now!. 5 February 2015.
- Reiss, Dorit Rubinstein (February 16, 2014). "Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of the Lord Thy God in Vain: Use and Abuse of Religious Exemptions from School Immunization Requirements". Hastings Law Journal. University of California, Hastings College of the Law. 65 (6). SSRN .
- "Funding the Costs of Disease Outbreaks Caused by Non Vaccination". Social Science Research Network. 3 June 2014. SSRN .
- "These Professors Want Parents Who Don't Vaccinate to Pay a Tax". BuzzFeed News. 9 February 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
- "Transcript". What The Folly?. 29 April 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2015.