Anti-Vaxxers need to be rebuffed, but Republicans are suddenly supporting them
As American public health has once again devolved into debate, President Obama was forced to speak to vaccines and the growing measles outbreaks. He urged parents to get their kids vaccinated and to look to the indisputable science involved. Naturally, Republicans had to immediately contradict him.
“I have heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines,” Rand Paul said on Laura Ingraham’s show.
He’s not the first Paul to say so. His father Ron said, during his presidential run, that “people have had some very, very serious reactions” from vaccines
Rand would later add on CNBC, “I’m not arguing vaccines are a bad idea. I think they are a good thing, but I think the parent should have some input. The state doesn’t own your children. Parents own the children. And it is an issue of freedom and public health.”
Insert the obvious joke about how Rand Paul is living proof that mental disorders are running rampant. At least Rand is an actual doctor. Oh. Wait. No, he’s not.
Paul’s comments followed closely on the heels of Governor Chris Christie’s suggestion that states should “balance” laws on vaccination against a parent’s right to choose. And it’s important to note, he’s supported Anti-Vaxxers before, in 2009:
“I have met with families affected by autism from across the state and have been struck by their incredible grace and courage. Many of these families have expressed their concern over New Jersey’s highest-in-the-nation vaccine mandates.
I stand with them now, and will stand with them as their governor in their fight for greater parental involvement in vaccination decisions that affect their children.”
Obama said black, no pun intended, so Christie said white. That’s all his current statements are about. If Obama had called for vaccination choice, Christie would have demanded mandatory vaccination. Politicizing this issue was massively irresponsible, and it’s been blowing up in the ubiquitous Governor’s face ever since.
Here’s the question; whose support was Christie hoping to gain with this? Many Anti-Vaxxers come from the Loony Left, while staunchly conservative states like Mississippi strictly mandate vaccinations for residents. This wasn’t solely a partisan issue before, but Christie just made it one. And Rand Paul backed him up.
How long do you suppose it will take before Anti-Vaxxers twist this issue to mean, say, Religious Freedom? One could easily imagine a domino effect of support throughout the Religious Right and Libertarian elements of Republicans.
Should this mushroom into yet another damaging issue for hard line conservatives to back, America will suffer greatly for it. Because if this gets dragged out in such a manner, outbreaks will also mushroom throughout the country, and people will die.
To be fair, Christie later issued a statement clarifying that he believes that “there is no question” that children should be vaccinated for diseases like measles. The infamously thin-skinned Paul is also doing verbal gymnastics to escape being seen as an Anti-Vaxxer. Petulantly, yes, but he’s at least trying to walk it back.
But the damage is done, the Anti-Vaxxer movement feels validated once again. In the face of ever increasing outbreaks of preventable diseases throughout the nation, they had been under severe pressure to back down from everyone not out of their fucking minds. Paul and Christie just took some of that pressure off of them.
So, once again, let’s look at the facts. Let’s start with the math.
Using CDC data, we can determine there were about 108 deaths from the MMR vaccine over 10 years. In that time, more than 40,000,000 children were immunized. Now, according to the World Health Organization, more than 20,000,000 children annually worldwide contract measles. Of those, more than 150,000 die from it.
This means the chances of dying from the MMR vaccine is around one in 371,000. The chances of dying from measles, however, is around one in 130!
You are 2,800 times less likely to die from the MMR vaccine than you are from the measles. If you don’t get vaccinated, and then spread those measles, you will very likely kill other people’s children. This is unjustifiable.
As for the repeatedly debunked and fraudulent claim that vaccines cause autism, let’s pretend for one nano-second that they do. Are you really willing to let your child die a slow agonizing death to prevent autism?
Putting this simply; areas that introduce vaccines show a huge reduction in diseases, and areas that refuse vaccines show a huge increase in diseases. Clear enough? We not only vaccinate to protect ourselves, we vaccinate to protect those who cannot, whether it be for medical or age reasons. That’s called responsibility. Republicans are supposed to be behind that concept, aren’t they?
Christie and Paul are correct that our children are our children and nobody else’s. But the MMR vaccine is a defining factor in a public safety issue that affects not only your children, but untold millions of other children as well. It’s much bigger than just your family, and it’s already been proven repeatedly that the irresponsible actions of Anti-Vaxxers put everyone at risk. Therefore, Christie and Paul, this is a governmental issue to regulate.
It is beyond insane that this has even become a debate. And although Anti-Vaxxers now shun Jenny McCarthy, and she is desperately attempting to distance herself from them, she is still complicit in strengthening their movement, and turning common sense into lunacy. Like it or not, an actress famous for fart jokes helped bring all of this about.
The exhausting thing with writing about Anti-Vaxxers is that you have to drag up and debunk the same stupid talking points over and over again. Vaccines do not cause autism. Yes, it does matter if you aren’t vaccinated and I am. Anti-Vaxxer sources are fraudulent.
My favorite is the “I don’t get vaccinated and I don’t get sick” argument. May as well say because you have always driven without a seatbelt and haven’t had an accident, you’ll never be in one. Damn those evil seatbelt companies and their moneymaking agendas, amirite? The premise is that ludicrous.
But really, all it comes down to is if you feel you have the right to not vaccinate, that’s fine, you just can’t come out in public. Refusing to accept responsibility for how your decisions affect your fellow citizens shows blinding ignorance and inconsideration. Period.
Anti-Vaxxers must not be encouraged or enabled, and Christie and Paul deserve scorn for doing so, whether they meant to or not. Prepare for the inevitable “not meant to be factual” comments when they get pressed on this in future. The usual stupidity from the GOP, in other words.
“Humans have always used our intelligence and creativity to improve our existence. After all, we invented the wheel, discovered how to make fire, invented the printing press, a found a vaccine for polio.” ~ Naveen Jain