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Thursday, June 18, 2020

Republicans and Antivaxxers

Anti-vaccine groups’ efforts to court Republicans have started to pay off. In the last few years, conservative lawmakers in several states have introduced legislation that seeks to weaken rules around vaccination. In 2017, a group of Republican Texas state reps who called themselves the Freedom Caucus sought to block the state’s effort to track the number of parents who sought exemptions for schools’ vaccine requirements. The Freedom Caucus passed an amendment that requires the state to obtain parental consent from biological parents before vaccinating children in foster care. A Pennsylvania state senator, Daryl Metcalfe, sponsored a bill in 2019 that would prohibit doctors from refusing to care for unvaccinated patients. In January, Colorado state Sen. Dave Williams introduced legislation that would require health care workers to give parents a list of ingredients and rare side effects before administering vaccines; it would also forbid them from even recommending a vaccine to a teenager without parental consent. It didn’t pass, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. In the days leading up to the vote, the admins of the Facebook group People for Informed Consent exhorted members to “spend the next few days working the halls and working the phones like it is your only job. You must secure every Republican Senator and flip three Democrats.”
In 2018, researchers from Drexel University in Pennsylvania reviewed 175 proposed pieces of legislation about states’ vaccine exemption laws. They found that bills that sought to make it easier to opt out of vaccines were more likely to come from Republican lawmakers. Of the 13 bills that ultimately passed, 12 weakened existing laws around vaccine requirements.
Damien Fisher at Manchester Ink Link:
A group of New Hampshire doctors want United States Senate candidates Bryant “Corky” Messner and Donald Bolduc to stop voicing what they say are dangerous theories about vaccines.
“You are both highly visible as candidates for the U.S. Senate, making your anti-vaccination positions especially dangerous. In recent weeks you both have pushed harmful conspiracy theories that could undermine the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the letter sent Wednesday states.
Messner’s campaign senior advisor Mike Biundo, said Messner wants the vaccine development process to be transparent and leave the choice to get vaccinated up to families and individuals.
“He believes that parents and individuals need to be able to make informed decisions, but that those decisions need to be mindful of public health,” Biundo wrote in an email response.
Bolduc said his views on vaccines are guided by his concerns about consent and civil rights.
“We need to be responsible about vaccines, where there’s risk there needs to be choice,” Bolduc said in a phone interview.
The letter, signed by five doctors including State Representative Dr. Gary Wood, D-Bow, calls out both Republican candidates for their statements about vaccines. Messner and Bolduc are currently in a primary race with the winner taking on incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in the fall.