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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

State GOP v. Vaccines

In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing disease to spread.

Arthur Allen at Politico:
The GOP tilt is more pronounced among state lawmakers than among federal ones; many prominent Republicans in Congress including most of the 16 GOP doctors have endorsed vaccines. The most visible and voluble exception is Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), an ophthalmologist who says his own kids were vaccinated but the decision should be left to the parents, not the government.
But in states where legislators have advanced serious efforts to tighten restrictions, such as Maine, Washington, Colorado and Oregon, nearly all of the opponents are Republicans who’ve taken a medical freedom stance.
“The more they dig into it being about freedom, the more susceptible they become to the theories,” said Dave Gorski, a Michigan physician who has tracked the anti-vaccine movement for two decades. “Appeals to freedom are like the gateway drug to pseudoscience.”
At the extremes are legislators like Jonathan Stickland, a pro-National Rifle Association, Christian conservative in the Texas Assembly, who has described vaccines as “sorcery” while personally attacking Baylor University scientist Peter Hotez, who has a daughter with autism and works on vaccines for neglected tropical diseases. “Parental rights mean more to us than your self-enriching 'science,'" Stickland tweeted at Hotez earlier this month.
That same day, the Oregon Republican Party’s official Twitter account posted that Oregon Democrats were “ramming forced injections down every Oregon parent's throat.”
Other Republican state officials have blamed Central American immigrants for disease outbreaks, echoing a talking point of Fox commentator Lou Dobbs. In fact, experts say, children in many of those countries are more thoroughly vaccinated than their U.S. counterparts against diseases like whooping cough and measles.
From CDC:
From January 1 to May 24, 2019, 940 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 26 states. This is an increase of 60 cases from the previous week. This is the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1994 and since measles was declared eliminated in 2000.