Republicans Resisting Democratic Efforts To Limit Exemptions From Vaccine Laws

As Democrats at the state level seek to limit the ability of parents to decline to vaccinate their children. they are facing resistance from Republican colleagues.

As I have noted several times in recent months, measles, a disease once thought to be nearing total extinction in the developed world at least, is making a comeback. Recent reports have shown that measles cases have reached levels not seen in decades in Europe, the United States, and around the world. While measles remains a serious problem in the third world, where overcrowding, incompetent governments, and lack of adequate health care and education are the main problems that public health care advocates face in promoting vaccination programs. in the developed world the problem comes in the form of an anti-vaccination movement based largely on pseudoscience and discredited medical evidence.

In response to this, many states have taken steps to make it more difficult for parents to exempt their children mandatory vaccination laws. As Politico notes today, though, Democratic legislators in many of these states are finding their Republican counterparts resisting those efforts:

Most Republicans are rejecting Democrat-led state bills to tighten childhood immunization laws in the midst of the worst measles outbreak in two decades, alarming public health experts who fear the nation could become as divided over vaccines as it is over global warming.

Democrats in six states — Colorado, Arizona, New Jersey, Washington, New York and Maine — have authored or co-sponsored bills to make it harder for parents to avoid vaccinating their school-age children, and mostly faced GOP opposition. Meanwhile in West Virginia and Mississippi, states with some of the nation’s strictest vaccination laws, Republican lawmakers have introduced measures to expand vaccine exemptions, although it’s not yet clear how much traction they have.

In Washington state, which has one of the biggest measles outbreaks, a bill in the state Senate to narrow vaccine exemptions passed through the health committee without the support of a single Republican. The same thing happened in legislative committees in Colorado and Maine over the past week.

All states have mandatory vaccination laws, but they vary in how liberally they dispense exemptions on religious or philosophical grounds. That’s getting scrutiny as measles spreads.

Democrats present bills tightening the loopholes as science-based and necessary to fight disease, while sometimes demeaning their foes as misguided or selfish “anti-vaxxers.” Republicans portray themselves as equally enthusiastic about the life-saving virtues of vaccines, but many are loath to diminish the right of parental control over their children’s bodies, and yield that power to the government.

Of course there are vaccine skeptics on the left, too, Robert Kennedy Jr. being the most prominent example. But to date, their influence isn’t as strong in state legislatures.

Fed by major epidemics in Israel and in Europe, measles has punctured the U.S. barrier of immunity at multiple points of entry in what’s shaping up to be the worst year for the disease since 1993, with 555 cases through early April. Outbreaks in six states include hundreds of cases in ultra-Orthodox communities in Brooklyn and Rockland County, N.Y. And the numbers are growing.

“What if God forbid someone dies?” said Jeff Dinowitz, a Bronx assemblyman whose bill to limit religious exemptions has nine Democratic co-sponsors — but no Republican backers — in the New York Assembly.

Andrew Raia, ranking Republican on the New York Assembly’s health committee, said he wouldn’t support the bill. While not totally convinced by constituents who link their children’s autism on vaccines, and unaware of any real religious injunction against vaccination, he said, “I’m not a religious leader, and I’m not a scientist either, so it’s my job to weigh both sides.”

The political struggle over vaccination is complicated by the fact that President Donald Trump and two of his Republican primary foes, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) an ophthalmologist, and Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon who is now HUD secretary, both voiced support for disproven theories linking vaccine to autism during a 2016 debate. Just last month, Paul said he had his own children vaccinated but railed against government mandates to do so.

In Texas, the Tea Party and related groups created an anti-vax PAC in 2015. It hasn’t yet gotten its chosen candidates elected, but the very existence of a vaccine-oriented political action committee shows the political salience is growing. Influential voices on the right, including Rush Limbaugh, Tucker Carlson and Alex Jones, have all raised suspicions about vaccines.

“There’s a credulity gap between the parties in regard to science that wasn’t there 25 years ago,” Berinsky said. And Trump could easily inflame the vaccine skepticism, should he weigh in. For a large share of the highly polarized U.S. population, “at the end of the day it’s not the arguments people are making, but who is making them,” Berinksy said.

To be sure, Republicans have traditionally backed vaccines as a parental responsibility. And although Sen. Paul opposes mandatory vaccination, other GOP members of Congress — including Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Reps. Phil Roe (R-TN) Michael Burgess, (R-TX) and Rep. Brad Wenstrup R-OH), who are all doctors— strongly backed vaccination in statements to POLITICO, while stopping short of supporting the removal of religious or philosophical exemptions. Cassidy has come out strongly for mandatory vaccinations, and has publicly sparred with Paul.

To be fair, not every Republican or conservative holds this position that has been best articulated by Senator Rand Paul. Nearly all of the Republicans in Congress who also happen to be medical doctors, for example, support largely mandatory vaccination for children and the resistance here appears to be limited to legislators at the state level. For many of these Republican legislators, the objections to mandatory vaccination laws are based not so much on the pseudoscience of the anti-vaccination movement but on arguments based on personal liberty and the idea that parents rather than the state should be able to make medical decisions for their children.

While I am not unsympathetic to these personal liberty arguments, it seems clear that there are public health issues related to the risks that unvaccinated people, specifically children, pose not only to themselves but to the public as a whole. As I’ve noted in several posts here recently, we’ve seen an increase in measles cases in the United States and Europe that can be linked to the ill-informed choices that parents who have bought into the propaganda of the anti-vaccination movement have made. Even if one concedes that parents have the right to make these choices for their children, that right would seem to have limits once it puts members of the general public at risk. This is especially true if they insist on enrolling unvaccinated children in public school or exposing them to other children, especially children too young to be fully immunized, people with compromised immune systems, and other members of the public who may not be vulnerable to infection by someone who could have been immunized but instead becomes infected by someone who could have been immunized but wasn’t. Perhaps if someone were not going to interact with members of the general public this argument would make sense, but if you’re going to be sending your kid out into public, and especially to public school, then requiring that they be immunized against easily communicable diseases is a reasonable one and that public health interests do end up outweighing personal liberty at some points.

Looking at this from a legal point of view, Republicans are clearly on the losing side of the argument. Generally speaking, the Courts have often recognized that state and local authorities do have significant authority to restrict personal liberty in the name of public health. More than a century ago, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that a Massachusetts town was within its authority to require a man to receive a smallpox vaccination. In no small part, the Court’s ruling was based upon what it saw as a de minimus violation of personal liberty compared to the extreme risk to public health that would be posed by an unvaccinated person being exposed to Smallpox and spreading the disease to other unvaccinated members of the community, such as the young, sick, and elderly. The name of this case is Jacobson v. Massachusetts and it has stood as the standard Constitutional view on this issue for well over 100 years. More recently in 2014, a Federal District Court Judge in New York upheld a policy of the New York City School Board that provided that children who were not vaccinated could be barred from school during the time that there was an outbreak of a disease they were not vaccinated against.

While many Republican legislators apparently disagree, this position is entirely consistent with the balances between individual liberty and public safety that our society has struggled with since the Founder’s era. Just as your right to swing your first end where my body begins, your right as a parent to decide not to vaccinate your child ends where the risk that someone else’s child, or someone who may be immuno-compromised begins. This isn’t a restriction of liberty, it’s a basic principle of public health and, Republicans ought to recognize that. Additionally, I would add that there are limits to the extent to which parents ought to be able to make medical decisions for the children. When those choices are unreasonable, based on pseudo-science, and put the child and others at risk then there ought to be a mechanism for someone to step up and speak for the rights of the child. After all, the whole idea of “parental rights” is centered around the idea that parents are best situated to make decisions for their children and that because they are parents, they can generally be trusted to make decisions that are in the best interests of children. Sometimes, though, that isn’t the case, and choosing not to vaccinate a child based on discredited medical studies or pseudoscience spread by know-nothing celebrities, or refusing necessary life-saving care based on religious superstitions. strikes me as one of those times when the rights of the child and “parental rights” are in conflict.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Health, Law and the Courts, Science & Technology, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Kathy says:

    I see the issue largely similar to drunk driving. You have a right to risk your life as you see fit, but you don’t have a right to risk everyone else’s lives as well.

    In the case of vaccines, the only valid exemption is a medical one, where the risk of being vaccinated is higher than not being vaccinated. For example, if you’re allergic to one or more of the vaccine’s ingredients.

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  2. Mister Bluster says:

    Citizens who oppose vaccines are actively in favor of spreading disease that will kill children.

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  3. Joe says:

    How dare the State of Illinois tell me how old my children need to be before they can drive! My 10-year-old can see over the steering wheel and reach the gas. This should be my call, not the nanny state’s!

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  4. DrDaveT says:

    This isn’t a restriction of liberty, it’s a basic principle of public health

    Actually, it is a restriction of personal liberty — one that is justified by appeal to principles more important than personal liberty alone. This is not just quibbling over definitions; it’s something people have to internalize if they’re going to be able to debate public policy sensibly. Until we agree on what those more important principles are, we have no ability to reach consensus on which policies will best achieve them.

    Fortunately, someone made up a pretty good list once of the sometimes-conflicting goals we have agreed to value:

    form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity…

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  5. Paul L. says:

    @Kathy:
    MADD is just the remnants of the Temperance movement
    Even when the drunk driver hurts no one, they are punished excessively.

    My Body, My Choice.

    your right as a parent to decide not to vaccinate your child ends where the risk that someone else’s child

    Afterall, the vaccines make all the children of progressives immune to the disease that will kill the children of the science deniers .

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  6. Teve says:

    Everybody loves to talk about their rights but much less often do people like talking about their responsibilities in society. You have a responsibility not to spread medieval fucking diseases that kill people. I don’t care if you want to refuse because David Avocado Wolfe told you it will interfere with your chakras, or Alex Jones told you that vaccines are a Monsanto mind control globalist plot, either get with the program or go live in a cave.

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  7. grumpy realist says:

    I had an uncle who, as a result of measles while young, suffered brain damage and was institutionalised for the rest of his (short) life. This tragedy had effects on my grandparents’ marriage, with ricochetting effects on all their children.

    Both my parents suffered lifelong serious damage from illnesses for which there were no vaccines at the time.

    I ask anti-vaxxers again: are you SURE you know what you are lobbying for?!

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  8. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Republicans only continue to cement their position as the Party of Stupid.
    Windmills cause cancer…and vaccinations cause autism.
    You just cannot make up the how ridiculous this once-great party has become.

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  9. Paul L. says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    You just cannot make up the how ridiculous this once-great party has become.

    When was the Republican Party great? 1850-1865? Name who you believe to be the great Republicans? McCain? Who Doug wrote was too extreme to vote for President.

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  10. @Paul L.:

    Afterall, the vaccines make all the children of progressives immune to the disease that will kill the children of the science deniers .

    Only if the effect of the vaccine is 100%; if it is only 99%, some vaccinated children will be harmed by the contact with the non-vaccinated children.

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  11. drj says:

    Guns also pose a public health risk, as study after study has shown.

    And we all know how Republicans have treated that issue.

    Somehow, they never see it as an infringement on personal liberty when only the imagined other suffers the consequences of their selfish behavior – whether it’s falling ill with a preventable disease or having to attend a “hardened” school with frequent active shooter drills.

    ETA: And, of course, @Paul L. offers a perfect illustration of this it-will-never happen-to-me attitude (so fuck everybody else):

    Even when the drunk driver hurts no one, they are punished excessively.

    My Body, My Choice.

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  12. Teve says:

    @Miguel Madeira: and kids who were too young to get the vaccine, and immunocompromised people,…

  13. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Paul L.:
    Other than Lincoln? Grant?
    I love that Teddy Roosevelt gave me my Nat’l Parks.
    Modern day?
    I didn’t agree with everything…but Eisenhower. Who in today’s party could get the Interstate system built?
    Buckley was pretty sharp compared to today’s lot. He tossed out the Birchers. Now they are running the party.
    Nixon, in spite of his failings.
    I had a lot of problems with Reagan…a lot…but he was nothing – harmless – compared to today’s idiots.

    I truly believe that Conservatism has much to offer this country. I’ve said that on this forum many times. But today’s Republicanism…very little, if anything.
    Give me a Democratic president with an old-school Republican congress…that’s what will keep America great.

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  14. KM says:

    this position is entirely consistent with the balances between individual liberty and public safety that our society has struggled with since the Founder’s era. Just as your right to swing your first end where my body begins, your right as a parent to decide not to vaccinate your child ends where the risk that someone else’s child, or someone who may be immuno-compromised begins. This isn’t a restriction of liberty, it’s a basic principle of public health and, Republicans ought to recognize that.

    What’s more – it’s the traditional and thus conservative way to address this issue. Back in the day, quarantine wasn’t an option. You were found to be infectious, you were kept away from the public by any and all means. Depending on the time and place, you could expect armed military men to “convince” you that staying home was a good idea. Even back in the golden era conservatives screamed about (1944 to be precise), legislation was passed regarding the government’s ability and responsibility to tell ill folks that no, you don’t get to spread your preventable disease around, thanks!

    A *real* conservative would look to the past and see how this was handled instead of bristling about “FU I do what I want!!” Vaccines are what allowed quarantines to become rare and thus something to debate the ethics of. In the olden days, there’d be no question as your liberty doesn’t give you the right to be a plague carrier. This current mentality is entitlement at it’s finest – “Don’t tell me what to do or where to go and if my stupidity kills you, it’s not my fault!”

  15. Paul L. says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    but he was nothing – harmless – compared to today’s idiots.

    Reagan/Raygun was going to start a Nuclear war with the USSR the strongest and most robust economic system and economy the world has ever seen. 😉

    I was told Grant had the most corrupt administration in the history of the US until Bush/Trump.

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  16. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    I want to add H. W. Bush…he was a good president in spite of the Iran-Contra mess.

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  17. Paul L. says:

    @Miguel Madeira:
    Why are you questioning vaccines effectiveness Science denier?
    Are some people’s antibodies inferior to others?

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  18. Paul L. says:

    @drj:
    HIV/AIDS also poses a public health risk. I was told it would spread to and decimate the straight community. So any steps to fight this epidemic are warranted?

  19. just nutha says:

    @ Paul L: You’re just a boatload of idiocy today, aren’t you?
    WA!

  20. KM says:

    @Paul L.:

    Are some people’s antibodies inferior to others?

    Yes, you freaking moron! It’s called being immuno-compromised!

    I am not immune to the measles due to a genetic quirk. I am one of the unlucky few the vaccine will never take on. My aunt who just got a lung transplant is also at high risk. People like you and your utter stupidity are a threat to our lives.

    I sincerely hope karma catches up to your ignorant ass and you find out what’s it’s like to be at the mercy of stupid people who could care less if you die. In fact, it’d be cosmic karma if measles mutates because of this nonsense and EVERYONE would now be at risk…. and pissed off. Measles can be fatal to adults so the whole world would suddenly need to fear in a way they haven’t for a very long time. I wonder how anti-vaxxers would feel if mobs started holding them accountable for bring back a plague on humanity unnecessarily……

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  21. DrDaveT says:

    @Paul L.:

    Even when the drunk driver hurts no one, they are punished excessively.

    We also punish people who fire guns into crowds, whether or not they hit anyone. Does this bother you?

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  22. DrDaveT says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I had a lot of problems with Reagan…a lot…but he was nothing – harmless – compared to today’s idiots.

    Reagan’s evil was more subtle. Without Reagan, the GOP would never have been able to sell the idea that the government that put a man on the moon (to pick one of thousands of notable achievements) is not merely incompetent at X, but necessarily incompetent at X, for all values of X. And then to use that public sentiment to make it come true, for many values of X, when it had not been before.

    It will take at least half a century to undo the harm from that one.

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  23. Jen says:

    It is almost inconceivable to me that we’ve reached this level of stupidity.

    Here’s who we’re protecting:

    Some people are immuno-compromised.
    Some might have received less-effective batches of vaccines.
    Some are too young to have received vaccinations yet.
    Some are fighting awful diseases that in order for treatment to be effective, their immune systems are knocked down to almost nothing.
    Some are transplant organ recipients, whose anti-rejection medications make them more susceptible to disease.
    Some simply have less robust immune systems for whatever reason–genetics, disabilities, previous illnesses…whatever.

    These are the people who are RELYING on herd immunity. It is arrogant, selfish, and stupid to cite some “personal liberty” nonsense and put these people at risk.

    I lived abroad for most of my young life. Vaccination rates in the developing countries we were stationed in were below 10% at that time. My vaccination books (yes, plural) are the most thorough most of the stateside doctors I’ve had had ever seen. There is an extremely high likelihood that I was exposed to everything from smallpox to measles to polio.

    Vaccines WORK. They save lives. That this type of stupid is being allowed to put us at risk is unconscionable.

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  24. Teve says:

    In the last week or two somebody reported that a congressional Republican or a senior staffer or somebody told them “Science is for Democrats.” As delicious and true a quote that was, I haven’t repeated it anywhere because there was no attribution. But if they keep it up, everybody’s going to realize it anyway.

  25. MarkedMan says:

    Just a note of caution when you hear a Vax-Rights person like Paul or Mayim Bialik say “I’m not anti-vax, my own kids are vaccinated.” Their kids might have had one vaccination, sometimes because of travel to certain foreign countries that require yellow fever vaccination.

  26. Jen says:

    @Paul L.:

    HIV/AIDS also poses a public health risk. I was told it would spread to and decimate the straight community. So any steps to fight this epidemic are warranted?

    There is a lot we’ve learned about HIV since the early ’80s. One fact is that it’s actually not that easily transmitted. It doesn’t survive long on surfaces, and is IIRC a blood-borne virus.

    Measles, on the other hand, is almost perfectly designed for broad transmission. It is airborne, and the virus can live in the air for up to two hours where an infected person has coughed or sneezed. It can also be transmitted when a person is infected but not yet showing symptoms, and a person is typically infected for over a week (10-12 days) before becoming symptomatic.

    There’s plenty of information out there for those who actually want to learn, but bottom line: measles is far more of a threat to the general public, simply by nature of how it spreads.

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  27. Kathy says:

    It might be worth going over how vaccines work.

    Caveat: I’m far from an expert in the subject, and all I know I learned in biology class in school, plus the odd article here and there. That said:

    The immune system “remembers” foreign pathogens that have caused it to activate. This is why you don’t catch many diseases twice. Someone who survived smallpox, back before vaccines, wouldn’t catch it again. The immune response for a “remembered” disease agent is far stronger than the general immune response.

    There are exceptions. A pathogen can mutate enough that the immune system won’t recognize it, and has to start over from scratch. These include things like the common cold and the flu (though you won’t catch the same strain of cold or flu twice).

    So the idea is for a vaccine to induce immune response without causing disease. This is tricky, which is why there aren’t vaccines for all diseases (and mutations, too). Usually a portion of pathogen can be used, or a dead pathogen, or an inactive or noninfectious form, or a related germ that doesn’t make people ill or not too ill. Just the same, sometimes the immune response itself causes symptoms of disease like fever.

    The very first vaccine was a related disease agent. People exposed to cowpox, a relative of smallpox, got a very mild illness and immunity from smallpox. People who got smallpox had a scant chance of surviving. The trade-off was obvious. And has been so successful smallpox has been eradicated in nature.

    The relevant point is that vaccines induce an immune response, and the immune system “remembers” it. naturally this may not offer enough protection to people with a lower level of immune activity, such as those with an immune system disease, or a disease that impacts the immune system, or a condition where the immune system is suppressed with medication. See Jen’s post above, it contains a very exhaustive list. I would add some vaccine effects may wear out in time. As the body ages the immune system ages with it. This is why older people are more prone to disease and tend to take longer to recover, even with aggressive treatment.

    Some people have medical reasons why they can’t take a vaccines, such as allergies, and even compromised immune systems. These people depend on other people being vaccinated to keep safe, as the more people get vaccinated, the less chance there is for pathogens to spread. The number of people who have to get a vaccine in order to keep the pathogen at bay is very large, around the high 90s in percentage; more so in large, crowded cities.

    Lastly, there’s a trend against vaccinating pets, too. This is a major concern as well. aside from the detrimental effects on pets, dogs and cats are prone to catch rabies, which they can pass on to people through bites. Rabies in humans is quite deadly, and there’s no effective treatment once symptoms appear. The only effective treatment is a complicated vaccine, taken in five shots over several days, if you even think you may have been exposed to rabies.

  28. Teve says:

    Lastly, there’s a trend against vaccinating pets, too.

    why am I not surprised.

  29. gVOR08 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I truly believe that Conservatism has much to offer this country.

    I’d agree, if we’re talking about conservatism in a vernacular sense. Wiktionary defines “conservatism” as:
    1. A political philosophy that advocates traditional values.
    2. A risk-averse attitude or approach.

    But you would have to go some to convince me that this represents any “conservative” political movement. Current or ever. Just finished reading The Reactionary Mind. Coey Robin makes a pretty good case that political conservatism is, and always has been, reaction to efforts to extend rights to proscribed minorities. It really is opposition to whatever liberals are for, updated weekly. Do you remember immigration being a top issue for hardcore conservatives ten years ago? This always involves a somewhat Trumpian, and somewhat schizophrenic, support of the establishment while attacking them for not adequately defending against whatever the threat is said to be.

  30. Jen says:

    @Teve:

    Lastly, there’s a trend against vaccinating pets, too.

    why am I not surprised.

    Yes, along with vegan diets for pets–the ultimate stupidity, especially for cats who are dedicated carnivores.

  31. Paul L. says:

    @DrDaveT:

    We also punish people who fire guns into crowds, whether or not they hit anyone.

    Attempted Murder as opposed to Murder.
    So much for progressives supporting Criminal Justice reform.

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  32. KM says:

    @Paul L. :
    Seeing as how your original complaint was about “excessive punishment” for crimes that didn’t cause any injuries or death and this nugget of idiocy, I take it you’d be OK with letting some terrorist off lightly if they tried to off you unsuccessfully? It’s only *attempted* after all!

    I mean, you’d still be alive so clearly they didn’t really hurt you. Slap on the wrist, let them go and see if second times the charm??

    I know you’re a troll but try and use your brain sometimes, OK? I swear your life will be better if you exercise it like God intended.

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  33. Paul L. says:

    @KM:
    Because a DUI is equivalent to murder/terrorism.
    Unless it is a illegal alien then you should not deport him for that minor crime.

  34. An Interested Party says:

    My Body, My Choice.

    Oh absolutely! Just be sure to damage yourself in the privacy of your own home, so that no one else has to be exposed to whatever you do to yourself…

    Afterall, the vaccines make all the children of progressives immune to the disease that will kill the children of the science deniers .

    Wow…it would appear that you have already damaged yourself…

    I was told Grant had the most corrupt administration in the history of the US until Bush/Trump.

    You were lied to…

  35. gVOR08 says:

    This is about as unsurprising a headline as I’ve seen.

    To be fair, not every Republican or conservative holds this position that has been best articulated by Senator Rand Paul.

    Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative. – John Stuart Mill

    Didn’t this used to be the classic bothsides, liberals got crazy opinions too thing? We have a problem. We’ve known the solution forever. We used to apply the solution without controversy. And now Republicans are all, ‘We can’t do anything because Freedumb!!!” Jeebus. Once again, IT AIN’T JUST TRUMP.

  36. Joe says:

    @Kathy:

    Lastly, there’s a trend against vaccinating pets, too. This is a major concern as well. aside from the detrimental effects on pets, dogs and cats are prone to catch rabies, which they can pass on to people through bites. Rabies in humans is quite deadly, and there’s no effective treatment once symptoms appear. The only effective treatment is a complicated vaccine, taken in five shots over several days, if you even think you may have been exposed to rabies.

    My first reaction is how would an autistic cat be different from a cat, but I reveal my biases.

    More importantly, the rabies vaccine has become quite simpler.

  37. Kathy says:

    @Joe:

    More importantly, the rabies vaccine has become quite simpler.

    Yes, it takes about five shots now, whereas I recall it took like a dozen in the 70s.

    The crucial part is that it has to be administered as soon as possible. If symptoms begin to show, you’re pretty much 99% dead.

    IMO, if this is a trend, one ought to begin treating all unknown domestic pets as one would wild animals or vermin, and consider them all as suspicious of carrying rabies. Further, public health authorities can demand all pets to be vaccinated, and seize and, regrettably, put down those that aren’t. the stakes are high.

  38. just nutha says:

    @Paul L.: Not only are you already a boat load, you’re also taking on additional cargo, I see.

  39. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy:Good synopsis. Here are a couple of additional factoids I learned while suffering from the flu and living in a malarial country.

    The reason we can get “the” cold and “the” flu repeatedly is that we are not actually getting the same virus. These viruses that cause these diseases fall into the category of easily mutated and so constantly change. We can actually make a vaccine for any given flu, but by the next year there will be dozens of new varieties that vaccine won’t work for. The flu vaccine is actually a soup of several different flu vaccines that the World Health community has identified early on as having a high likelihood to be transmitted. Sometimes they (we) get lucky, sometimes not so much.

    Malaria is another case. I don’t believe it mutates particularly quickly but if I remember correctly, it’s normal lifecycle has it moving from host cell to host cell in several different phases inside the body. There is a belief that by the time the body detects the virus in one phase and activates its immune system to manufacture a large scale resistance, the virus has moved on to it’s next phase. However, there are some people that believe the virus also has methods of masking itself from the immune system. In either case, since 1988 when I first went to Africa I’ve seen at least a dozen “promising” malaria vaccines that came to nothing.

  40. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy:

    one ought to begin treating all unknown domestic pets as one would wild animals or vermin, and consider them all as suspicious of carrying rabies

    Done and done. If your dog or cat bites or scratches someone and you are unable to produce documentation of a rabies vaccination, the public health authorities will perform a rabies test on it. This test requires a lot of brain tissue, so the animal is euthanized. I have a relative who is completely into the “my body is a natural temple” thing and has several pets who are not vaccinated and I worry about her and her husband because they live near a desert where rabid animals are not unusual. Their pets could become infected, bite or scratch them, and they would depend on the “super immunity” they get from keeping all artificial ingredients as well as meat and dairy out of their bodies. Rabies is a truly horrible way to die.

    Oh and they also feed their dogs a vegan diet.

  41. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Malaria’s caused by a parasite. That’s a bit harder to defend against. I wonder, though, whether a vaccine would benefit carriers of the sickle-cell gene more than other people.

    Probably not, or it might be hard to detect. As the current theory is that a single copy of that gene confers resistance to the parasite.

  42. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    The other day I spent a few minutes at a parking lot where stray cats roamed a small lawn near a building. They were quite used to people, so they didn’t hide or avoid humans. One came close, meowed a few times at me, and sat a while staring at me.

    I’d spent a couple of hours that day at a meat-packing plant on business. Maybe I carried the smell of dead prey, and that interested the stray. Or maybe its used to strange people giving it treats.

    All I could think of is “don’t play with stray animals.”

  43. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: You just taught me something new, both directly and indirectly. I always assumed that the parasite plasmodium was carrying a virus and you corrected me on that. And since I previously thought vaccines could only be developed for viral diseases and I know people have worked for decades on a malaria vaccine, that led to me finding out there a small percentage of vaccines are for things other than virus. And plasmodia is neither a virus or a bacteria. What I said about rapidly moving from phase to phase within the body is still correct though.

  44. DrDaveT says:

    @Paul L.:

    Attempted Murder as opposed to Murder.

    No, “reckless endangerment”, or any of a dozen different names and grades, depending on which state you are in.

    You really don’t know anything about any of this, do you?

    But your analogy is (accidentally) apt: refusing vaccination is very much like reckless endangerment. That’s what you meant, right?