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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Candidates on Vaccines and Autism

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the issue's role in presidential campaigns.    Previous posts excerpted the Republican platform and the Democratic platform.  Posts have also discussed Green Party candidate Jill Stein's equivocation on vaccines.

Anna Almendrala writes at The Huffington Post:
In a video interview with The Washington Post last Friday, [Stein] said that while vaccines have played an important role in keeping us healthy and safe, there are legitimate concerns about how those vaccines are approved and regulated.

The comments mirror statements she made during a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” forum in May, when she described corporate influence over U.S. vaccine regulation as “foxes... guarding the chicken coop,” claiming regulatory boards are “routinely packed with corporate lobbyists and CEOs.” (Stein also seemed to suggest that in an “unheard of” situation, the U.S. doesn’t allow medical exemptions to its vaccination program; in fact, all states offer medical exemptions.)
While Stein is not strictly “anti-vaccine,” she is promoting a narrative that the vaccine regulation process in the U.S. is corrupt and untrustworthy ― a common refrain from actual anti-vaxxers. In fact, the U.S. vaccine regulatory process is a global model for how any drug should be tested and approved before hitting the market, several vaccine experts told The Huffington Post.
Robinson Meyer writes at The Atlantic:
But Stein is not the only candidate to address vaccines this election cycle. As first pointed out by the Twitter user @mcclure11, three of the four media-receiving presidential candidates have appeared to pander to anti-vaccine advocates. Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson has tweeted “No to mandatory vaccines.” And Donald Trump linked vaccines to autism in a GOP primary debate last fall, before being corrected on-stage by the surgeon Ben Carson.
Hillary Clinton tweeted in support of vaccines in February of this year. “The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let’s protect all our kids,” she said.
This round of equivocation from candidates may seem ominous—but, if anything, questions from party leaders over the safety of vaccinations have lately decreased. Comments like these were more common eight years ago. In 2008, Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain seemed to question the safety of vaccines. “We’ve seen just a skyrocketing autism rate,” said Obama said at a campaign stop in Pennsylvania. “Some people are suspicious that it’s connected to the vaccines.”
The Sacramento Bee editorializes:
It's] time to stop pandering to this element just to get a couple of votes on the margin. This election has been clouded enough with dog-whistle science denial. The Republican primary featured Donald Trump peddling discredited claims linking vaccines and autism, and Rand Paul and Ben Carson, who are physicians, repeating fringe assertions that delaying immunization was safer than the CDC’s standard schedule. It isn’t.
\Stein may be a third-party candidate, but she has a high profile now, and she’s a doctor. It’s disingenuous for her to play fast and loose with public health.
She knows the right answer to the immunization question. Hillary Clinton shouldn’t look like a rogue genius just for saying the obvious, as she did last year, when she tweeted: “The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork.”
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