Rand Paul’s Vaccine Problem

He and Chris Christie are trying to have it both ways.

"Calm down a bit here, Kelly."
National Journal
Feb. 2, 2015, 1:22 p.m.

Sen. Rand Paul thinks vac­cines are great. But that doesn’t mean he thinks people should have to use them.

Ap­pear­ing on CN­BC on Monday, Paul doubled down on com­ments he made to Laura In­gra­ham earli­er in the day say­ing that he thinks vac­cine use is a “per­son­al de­cision.”

“I think vac­cines are one of the greatest med­ic­al break­throughs that we have,” Paul told CN­BC’s Kelly Evans Monday even­ing. “I’m a big fan and a great fan of the his­tory of the de­vel­op­ment of the small­pox vac­cine, for ex­ample. But you know, for most of our his­tory, they have been vol­un­tary. So I don’t think I’m ar­guing for any­thing out of the or­din­ary. We are ar­guing for what most of our his­tory has had.”

By mak­ing this ar­gu­ment in the midst of a measles re­sur­gence, both Paul and New Jer­sey Gov. Chris Christie are try­ing to have it both ways: to em­phas­ize that, no, they would nev­er dis­pute the sci­ence be­hind vac­cines, while at the same time wink­ing at anti-vaxxers who put a premi­um on hav­ing the choice to not vac­cin­ate their kids.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, the over­all tone of Paul’s CN­BC in­ter­view was fairly com­bat­ive — at one point, while dis­cuss­ing something else, Paul held a fin­ger up to his mouth and lit­er­ally shushed Evans. The two main points of Paul’s ar­gu­ment per­tained to new­born safety and his­tor­ic­al pre­ced­ent — two factors that are not as rel­ev­ant to the vac­cin­a­tion de­bate as they may seem.

Here is Paul’s full reas­on­ing for why he op­poses man­dat­ory vac­cin­a­tion:

“I don’t think there is any­thing ex­traordin­ary about re­sort­ing to free­dom. I’ll give you a good ex­ample. The Hep­at­it­is B vac­cine is now giv­en to new­borns. We some­times give five and six vac­cines all at one time. I chose to have my delayed. I don’t want the gov­ern­ment telling me that I have to give my new­born Hep­at­it­is B vac­cine, which is trans­mit­ted by sexu­ally trans­mit­ted dis­ease and/or blood trans­fu­sions. Do I ul­ti­mately think it is a good idea? Yeah. And so I had my staggered over sev­er­al months. I have heard of many tra­gic cases of walk­ing, talk­ing nor­mal chil­dren who wound up with pro­found men­tal dis­orders after vac­cines. 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.”

The case against new­born vac­cin­a­tions is a fa­mil­i­ar ar­gu­ment, and one that Paul’s fath­er, Ron Paul, has made be­fore. In 2007, the eld­er Paul ar­gued that “bunch­ing” vac­cines to­geth­er can be dan­ger­ous for in­fants’ health.

“I think the doc­tors have got­ten to the point where they give too many, too of­ten,” Ron Paul said at the time. “They bunch ‘em to­geth­er — four, five of these vac­cines to­geth­er — and they over­whelm the im­mune sys­tem.”

That claim simply does not stand up to scru­tiny. “Nu­mer­ous stud­ies have found no link between get­ting the re­com­men­ded sched­ule of vac­cines and get­ting oth­er dis­eases later in child­hood,” Pop­u­lar Sci­ence re­por­ted. “There’s no cred­ible sci­entif­ic evid­ence that vac­cines are able to “over­load” ba­bies’ im­mune sys­tems. Though im­ma­ture, ba­bies’ sys­tems are pre­pared to handle vac­cines. They already handle nu­mer­ous vir­uses and bac­teria all around them in every­day life.”

The his­tor­ic­al po­s­i­tion­ing would hold more weight, ex­cept for the fact that the anti-vac­cin­a­tion move­ment is a his­tor­ic­al an­om­aly; op­pos­i­tion to­ward what was, un­til re­cently, a total non­is­sue in pub­lic health. And it’s not just per­son­al choice, but laws that af­fect com­pli­ance. An In­sti­tute of Medi­cine study found that in 2011, states with more le­ni­ent vac­cin­a­tion policies saw a 90 per­cent high­er in­cid­ence of whoop­ing cough.

The case of vac­cin­a­tion poses a com­pel­ling philo­soph­ic­al ques­tion for the Re­pub­lic­an Party; it per­fectly cap­tures the ten­sion between the per­son­al freedoms Re­pub­lic­ans cher­ish and the col­lect­ive good they, like any­one, want to up­hold. It’s a mi­cro­cosm of the val­ues that Re­pub­lic­ans must re­con­cile with­in them­selves, and with­in their party.

Up­date: Paul re­leased a state­ment Tues­day push­ing back against crit­ics.

“I did not say vac­cines caused dis­orders, just that they were tem­por­ally re­lated — I did not al­lege caus­a­tion,” Paul said in the state­ment. “I sup­port vac­cines, I re­ceive them my­self and I had all of my chil­dren vac­cin­ated. In fact today, I re­ceived the boost­er shot for the vac­cines I got when I went to Guatem­ala last year.”

What We're Following See More »
AFTER HE POSTED THREATENING PHOTO
Judge Orders Stone Gag Order
54 minutes ago
THE LATEST
DATES TBD
New Election Ordered in NC-09
57 minutes ago
THE DETAILS
Source:
TO DEMAND VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT MADURO STEP DOWN
Pence Traveling to Colombia
6 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

"Vice President Mike Pence will go to Colombia on Monday to speak with the Colombian president and regional leaders about the ongoing turmoil in Venezuela and rally the international community behind opposition leader Juan Guaidó." Pence "will deliver remarks to the 14 nations that are part of the 'Lima Group' in Bogota," and will meet with Colombian President Ivan Duque.

Source:
LIKELY TO FACE COMPETITION IN REPUBLICAN PRIMARY
Rep. Bradley Byrne Announces Bid Against Sen. Doug Jones
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne became the first official Republican entrant into the 2020 U.S. Senate race announcing his intention to run in a race that could become one of the most expensive political contests in Alabama history. Byrne, a three-term congressman from Fairhope, said he anticipates the fundraising during the lengthy 2020 campaign to eclipse the 2017 special Senate election, in which an estimated $50 million was spent during the contest. Democratic U.S. Senator Doug Jones, who narrowly defeated Republican Roy Moore in that election, raised more than $24 million."

Source:
TARGETS INCLUDED NANCY PELOSI
Coast Guard Lt. Planned Large-scale Terrorist Attack
7 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"A U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant and self-identified white nationalist was arrested after federal investigators uncovered a cache of weapons and ammunition in his Maryland home that authorities say he stockpiled to launch a widespread domestic terrorist attack targeting politicians and journalists...Though court documents do not detail a specific planned date for an attack, the government said he had been amassing supplies and weapons since at least 2017, developed a spreadsheet of targets that included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and searched the Internet using phrases such as “best place in dc to see congress people” and “are supreme court justices protected.”

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login