The Vaccine Question

 

Update: At this hour Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Scott Walker, and George Pataki (with a great response by the way) have spoken out in favor of vaccination, full stop. No responses yet from Bush, Huckabee, and Santorum.

If you followed me on Twitter today, you saw my largely unbounded anger at Chris Christie for giving exactly the wrong answer on the question of childhood vaccinations, and for opening up an issue harmful not just to the GOP, but to society as a whole.

Vaccination isn’t debatable. This isn’t a matter of opinion. This is one of the most long-running and proven successes in medical history. Vaccination saves lives by the millions. It has turned many of the diseases that killed and paralyzed generations of children into memories. When Christie was asked about vaccination, there was only one correct answer, “Vaccinate your kids. It’s not a question. Do it. Anything else is crazy.”

Rand Paul followed it with an even bigger whopper, “I have heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines.” The fact this thoroughly debunked pseudo-scientific claptrap about vaccines and autism has infected the dialogue of the 2016 Republican primary is so far beyond my comprehension that I can hardly do more than shout rage at the screen. Chris Christie and Rand Paul were so wildly irresponsible today that they should be horsewhipped, if not driven from the race.

This isn’t an argument about the government forcing us to vaccinate. It’s an argument about doctors and parents knowing what’s right and what saves lives. It’s an argument that civilized people with an instinct for societal self-preservation do that keep kids from dying of preventable diseases. They not only vaccinate their children for their own sake, but to provide herd immunity. To make a long concept short, when vaccination is very widespread, there are even more positive benefits in stopping the transmission of diseases. Once you get clusters of non-vaccinated kids, even vaccinated kids are at greater risk.

You can’t give crazy people even the slightest wiggle room on this topic, because because they’ll always exploit any opening to pursue their hysterical New Age fear of vaccines. Rand Paul and Chris Christie gave them exactly that. The antivax belief system is an offshoot of the organic-everything movement that is a nearly exclusive province of the left, with their charlatans and mysticism-based medical beliefs.

Now, we also own it. Two leading lights of the GOP have rolled us in the crazy mud with antivax lunatics. It’s a path that leads to dead kids, iron lungs, and a return to avoidable horrors. The Democrats were smart and aggressive on this story today, and are doing everything they can to turn the antivax movement into a GOP problem. Christie and Paul wrong on the science and on the politics.

If these two want to remain in the race, they should immediately renounce their remarks. Yes, they’ll both take a beating. They’ve earned it. They’re both surrounded by smart, well-paid consultants who should know better. If they don’t, it says they’re not simply politically idiotic. It means they’re either scientifically ignorant or willfully pandering to a fringe so insane it will sacrifice children to measles, mumps, rubella, polio, and other childhood killers from a darker time.

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  1. user_473455 Inactive
    user_473455
    @BenjaminGlaser

    The White House expressed similar reservations recently, which tampered a lot of the “heat” of the press, but they also backtracked yesterday. This anti-vax stuff is something that crosses ethnic, economic, social, etc… lines at every possible intersection.

    Olivier Knox on Twitter   White House said on Jan 30 that vaccine science is  really clear  but the decision is up to parents http   t.co IkDDhbOENP

    • #1
  2. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    Rick rick rick rick

    You are trying to play the game like this is a high trust society.  This is a low trust society now.  Pronouncements from any of our institutions on any issue of public concern is 60/40 a lie.

    I agree not getting vaccinated is insane and is squarely in the 40% which is not a lie, but lets not mistake what the actual problem is.  How is anybody to know what is true anymore?  The people whom we used to trust to help are across the board liars.

    Our government is filled with liars

    our schools are filled with liars

    our churches are filled with liars

    our scientific institutions are filled with liars

    There are so many lying liars that we can’t even know who the liars are.  A little understanding and forgiveness for people trying to do the best they can is in order.

    • #2
  3. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    “This isn’t an argument about the government forcing us to vaccinate. It’s an argument about doctors and parents knowing what’s right and what saves lives.”

    1.  There’s no reason it can’t be both.

    2. I see that conservatives have been getting vigorous winter exercise by sawing off the limbs they have been standing on.

    3. Sometimes it’s best not to be against something just because wacko leftists are for it, and vice versa.  I don’t think we need to have our thinking regulated by the left in that way.

    • #3
  4. user_977556 Member
    user_977556
    @TheodoricofFreiberg

    For the rest of the Republican field, here’s the correct answer to the vaccine question:

    “Measles vaccinations are safe, effective and save millions of lives. The urban myths and legends are not true. If you are a parent, I strongly urge you to vaccinate your children. Do I think the government should force parents to vaccinate their children? No. I believe the government has no business dictating such personal decisions. But I do know that vaccinating against this deadly disease is the right thing to do.”

    • #4
  5. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Rick Wilson:You can’t give crazy people even the slightest wiggle room on this topic, because because they’ll always exploit any opening to pursue their hysterical New Age fear of vaccines. Rand Paul and Chris Christie gave them exactly that. The antivax belief system is an offshoot of the organic-everything movement that is a nearly exclusive province of the left, with their charlatans and mysticism-based medical beliefs.

    I completely agree. What’s doubly infuriating, though, is that there are intelligent, worthwhile, and difficult conversations to be had about which vaccines we should coerce people to get and which we shouldn’t. Antivaxxers make those conversations impossible.

    • #5
  6. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    The vaccination question will soon be moot.  We are all going to die due to anthropogenic climate change.

    • #6
  7. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Theodoric Freiberg:Do I think the government should force parents to vaccinate their children? No. I believe the government has no business dictating such personal decisions. But I do know that vaccinating against this deadly disease is the right thing to do.”

    I’m against force, but I’m not against strong coercive measures short of force, including admittance to schools.

    You have the right not to vaccinate your kid, but not to force your unvaccinated kid to be in the same room as mine.

    • #7
  8. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    Theodoric Freiberg:For the rest of the Republican field, here’s the correct answer to the vaccine question:

    “Measles vaccinations are safe, effective and save millions of lives. The urban myths and legends are not true. If you are a parent, I strongly urge you to vaccinate your children. Do I think the government should force parents to vaccinate their children? No. I believe the government has no business dictating such personal decisions. But I do know that vaccinating against this deadly disease is the right thing to do.”

    winner winner

    • #8
  9. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Rick Wilson: Once you get clusters of non-vaccinated kids, even vaccinated kids are at greater risk.

    This is the key point in favor of a government mandate.

    The un-vaccinated become incubators for growing vaccine-resistant strains.

    Consider the once thought eradicated diseases that are making a comeback in the US. When we go from one case a year to just 1000, we are increasing a thousand fold the chances that a mutation will occur that creates vaccine resistance.

    • #9
  10. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:You have the right not to vaccinate your kid, but not to force your unvaccinated kid to be in the same room as mine.

    This brings up a question I asked over at Troy’s post.  If your kid is vaccinated, does it matter if another kid in the room isn’t?  In other words, is vaccination for measles close to 100% effective or isn’t it?  Does someone know?

    PS.  Ctlaw has just provided one answer.

    • #10
  11. Scott Reusser Member
    Scott Reusser
    @ScottR

    Christie’s comments were perfectly defensible with the whole context: He merely differentiated between those vaccines that should be mandatory and those that needn’t be. (Few would support mandatory flu shots, for instance.) But he’ll be taken out of context by Dems and the MSM, and he, and we, will look foolish — so yes, he should’ve addressed the matter in a simpler pro-vaccine way.

    Rand Paul’s comments on the other hand reveal that he’s truly foolish and right there with the nutters. A blow to the GOP image for sure. Ugh.

    • #11
  12. Pathfinder1208 Member
    Pathfinder1208
    @Pathfinder1208

    Guruforhire:Rick rick rick rick

    You are trying to play the game like this is a high trust society. This is a low trust society now. Pronouncements from any of our institutions on any issue of public concern is 60/40 a lie.

    I agree not getting vaccinated is insane and is squarely in the 40% which is not a lie, but lets not mistake what the actual problem is. How is anybody to know what is true anymore? The people whom we used to trust to help are across the board liars.

    Our government is filled with liars

    our schools are filled with liars

    our churches are filled with liars

    our scientific institutions are filled with liars

    There are so many lying liars that we can’t even know who the liars are. A little understanding and forgiveness for people trying to do the best they can is in order.

    Well said. Being a parent is difficult. Often parents receive unsolicited “advice” from “expert” who are not reasonable or reliable. In my opinion, it is totally reasonable for some parents to be confused about this issue. For the record, both of my children have been vaccinated. However, we did not go by the schedule that our doctor recommended. We felt that there was no advantage to adhering to the standard schedule. Instead, we opted to follow Dr. Robert Sears’ alternative vaccination schedule. It was a compromise that we felt comfortable with for a variety of reasons. The point is, we vaccinated our children on our terms in a responsible manner based upon an expert opinion. Soon, parents may not have that option.

    • #12
  13. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    ctlaw:

    Rick Wilson: Once you get clusters of non-vaccinated kids, even vaccinated kids are at greater risk.

    This is the key point in favor of a government mandate.

    The un-vaccinated become incubators for growing vaccine-resistant strains.

    Consider the once thought eradicated diseases that are making a comeback in the US. When we go from one case a year to just 1000, we are increasing a thousand fold the chances that a mutation will occur that creates vaccine resistance.

    Before we get to a high level of cases per year and the anti-vaxers kids start dying in large numbers, the anti-vaxers will change their minds for the most part.

    • #13
  14. Richard O'Shea Coolidge
    Richard O'Shea
    @RichardOShea

    How did we let this become a political problem for republicans?

    Judging from where the pockets of outbreak are, isn’t resistance to vaccination mainly a lefty, hippy kind of problem that is now becoming a problem for everyone?

    • #14
  15. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    I think some of the resistance on the right arose because of the Gardasil mandates.

    • #15
  16. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Basil Fawlty:This brings up a question I asked over at Troy’s post. If your kid is vaccinated, does it matter if another kid in the room isn’t? In other words, is vaccination for measles close to 100% effective or isn’t it? Does someone know?

    I don’t know the specifics of measles vaccines, but, in addition to what CT said:

    1. All vaccines have a failure rate: i.e., there’s always going to be some percentage of kids for whom the vaccine doesn’t work very well, or doesn’t work at all. The fact that everyone else around them is vaccinated — and, therefore, asymptomatic and (largely) non-contagious — offers them a lot of protection.
    2. Likewise, there is always going to be some small percentage of kids who have genuine medical problems that prevent them from vaccinating. These kids, likewise, benefit enormously from the herd immunity so long as nearly everyone else is vaccinated.
    • #16
  17. Yutch Coolidge
    Yutch
    @Bigfoot

    Vaccination is one of the few areas where government has a legitimate interest. This is not a matter of choice or conscience. This is a matter where there is no remaining room for debate or for weasel word arguments. Vaccinate or else.

    The Republicans are setting themselves up for a colossal disaster in 2016. Hopefully saner voices will prevail.

    • #17
  18. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Basil Fawlty:I think some of the resistance on the right arose because of the Gardasil mandates.

    I think you’re right and it’s partially defensible. From what I’ve followed, Gardasil is a good and very worthwhile vaccine, but Perry shouldn’t have pushed for making it mandatory so soon.

    • #18
  19. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Bigfoot:Vaccination is one of the few areas where government has a legitimate interest. This is not a matter of choice or conscience. This is a matter where there is no remaining room for debate or for weasel word arguments. Vaccinate or else.

    The Republicans are setting themselves up for a colossal disaster in 2016. Hopefully saner voices will prevail.

    Yes, government has a legitimate interest.

    Yes, it is a matter of choice or conscience.

    Yes, there is room for debate.

    To say otherwise is setting us up our society for colossal disaster, regardless of which party wins elections.

    • #19
  20. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    Sure, the control of infectious disease is about the only legitimate exercise of government in medicine, but it doesn’t have the legitimate power to make everybody get one.

    It could for instance pay for all vaccination on the public nickel.

    It could prevent access to public spaces for the unvaccinated.

    It could create a tool to identify the properly vaccinated to help places like disneyland keep out the plague rats.

    Quarantine is within the legitimate scope of government as well when your kids get sick.

    • #20
  21. zepplinmike Inactive
    zepplinmike
    @zepplinmike

    Not overtly championing government action is one thing (and I wouldn’t oppose government coercion in this case, depending on the specific form). Being unable to bring yourself to state definitively that everyone should get their kids vaccinated is another. At the very least, “leaders” like Christie should be using their position to call out the insanity on this issue. Why they feel the need to measure their statements so as to seemingly not offend anti-vaxers is beyond me. Either they aren’t clear on what’s right and wrong in this issue, or they’re cowards.

    Also, with that comment, Rand Paul is now unelectable in my eyes, and I once favored him for the nomination, although that seems like a long time ago now.

    • #21
  22. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    I think Theodoric’s response threads the needle nicely.

    • #22
  23. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Speaking of a legitimate government interest in public health, do Ricocheters support governmental restrictions on the use of antibiotics used in animal feed, and support restrictions on the medical use on humans, so as to lessen the development of antibiotic-resistant strains?

    <Raising my hand now>

    • #23
  24. user_645 Editor
    user_645
    @Claire

    How did we let this become a political problem for republicans?

    How did it become a political problem in the developed world? This is where libertarianism hits the end of the road. If it leads to a measles outbreak in California, it’s a useless ideology. Any political idea that winds up in “measles in California” suggests “lunacy at work.” I’m fine with forcing those vaccinations on my fellow citizens. Fine with it. Just as I’m fine with doing whatever needs to be done with people who can’t figure out what happens if you point a loaded gun at me and pull the trigger. It would be nice to find a humane way to stop them, but no, I won’t let idiots shoot me; and no, I won’t go back to having measles outbreaks in the First World. This requires no huge sophistication: Any candidate who fails to say “no measles, period, and you must be vaccinated” is instantly discredited on “total lack of common sense” grounds–whether he or she arrived at that position from the right, the left, or anywhere else.

    • #24
  25. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    You have the right not to vaccinate your kid, but not to force your unvaccinated kid to be in the same room as mine.

    That’s a strong argument in favor of greater school choice in our society.

    • #25
  26. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    This requires no huge sophistication: Any candidate who fails to say “no measles, period, and you must be vaccinated” is instantly discredited on “total lack of common sense” grounds–whether he or she arrived at that position from the right, the left, or anywhere else.

    I’m not running for office, I’m not a libertarian (on both practical and theoretical grounds), and I don’t say government should never coerce people, but please put me in the instantly discredited column. I am against loyalty oaths and such.

    • #26
  27. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Claire Berlinski:How did we let this become a political problem for republicans?

    How did it become a political problem in the developed world? This is where libertarianism hits the end of the road. If it leads to a measles outbreak in California, it’s a useless ideology. Any political idea that winds up in “measles in California” suggests “lunacy at work.”

    While there absolutely is a big streak of libertarians who are against coercion, I want to give props to reason for not being among them. Ron Bailey, in particular, has been fantastic on the matter and has debated fellow libertarians who are against coercion:

    Millions of Americans believe it is perfectly all right to put other people at risk of death and misery. These people are your friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens who refuse to have themselves or their children vaccinated against preventable infectious diseases.

    Aside from the issue of child neglect, there would be no argument against allowing people to refuse government-required vaccination if they and their families were the only ones who suffered the consequences of their foolhardiness. But that is not the case in the real world.

    • #27
  28. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    The Reticulator:

    You have the right not to vaccinate your kid, but not to force your unvaccinated kid to be in the same room as mine.

    That’s a strong argument in favor of greater school choice in our society.

    No disagreement here.

    • #28
  29. Yutch Coolidge
    Yutch
    @Bigfoot

    The Reticulator:Yes, there is room for debate.

    To say otherwise is setting us up our society for colossal disaster, regardless of which party wins elections.

    Baloney

    We do not debate murder.

    • #29
  30. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Baloney

    We do not debate murder.

    Nonsense. We debate murder all the time. We debate whether certain ways of death count as murder.  We debate how society should try to deal with it.  It’s not at all a clear-cut issue.

    • #30

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