Jessica Glenza reports at The Guardian about a Texas campaign that includes disgraced antivaccine activist Andrew Wakefield.
Anti-vaccine campaigners in the state’s biggest city are door-knocking, fundraising and Facebook-ing in hopes they can replace a moderate Republican with a conservative challenger, to represent a district that houses 2.1-miles of hospitals and research institutions.
Conservative Susanna Dokupil has received enthusiastic support from Texans for Vaccine Choice as she challenges fellow Republican Sarah Davis. Texans for Vaccine Choice declined to comment for this story. Dokupil did not respond to a request for comment.
Davis angered often women-led anti-vaccine groups, which prefer to be called “vaccine choice” or “medical freedom” campaigners, when she urged lawmakers to mandate human papillomavirus vaccines for foster children.
“There are clearly a number of candidates running with this platform front and center – vaccine choice, medical freedom,” Wakefield told the Guardian. “The members of Texans for Vaccine Choice have been very successful in their lobbying.”
“We’re seeing moderate candidates being cherry-picked out by candidates running on anti-vaccine platforms,” said Dr Peter Hotez, a tropical disease vaccine researcher at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Hotez, whose daughter has autism, warns that Texas could be vulnerable to a measles outbreak because so many parents have foregone shots. “They’ve clearly been very aggressive now, and have been emboldened.”
The trend appears to have spread across Texas. In recent months, high-profile politicians have questioned vaccine safety, such as the Bexar county district attorney, and state representatives and senators.