Dr. Ben Carson: No ‘Philosophical’ or ‘Religious’ Exemptions for Vaccinations

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Dr. Ben Carson, a likely 2016 GOP presidential contenders, believes there should be no “philosophical” or “religious” exemptions for vaccinations.

“Certain communicable diseases have been largely eradicated by immunization policies in this country and we should not allow those diseases to return by foregoing safe immunization programs, for philosophical, religious or other reasons when we have the means to eradicate them.”

“Although I strongly believe in individual rights and the rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit, I also recognize that public health and public safety are extremely important in our society,” Carson told The Hill. “Certain communicable diseases have been largely eradicated by immunization policies in this country and we should not allow those diseases to return by foregoing safe immunization programs, for philosophical, religious or other reasons when we have the means to eradicate them.”

Paul's amendment would ban laws that don’t apply equally to citizens and government. | AP Photo

The retired neurosurgeon’s comments came hours after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), both of whom are likely 2016 presidential candidates and potential rivals, stirred up controversy with their takes on vaccinations after the Disneyland measles outbreak.

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On Monday, Christie called for a need for “balance” regarding vaccination before his office immediately clarified Christie’s comments, saying there is “no question” that kids should be vaccinated against a disease like measles.

Paul said he could not understand why his belief that most vaccinations should be “voluntary” is in any way “controversial.”

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“I guess being for freedom would be really unusual?” he said during a Monday CNBC appearance. “I don’t understand the point why that would be controversial.”

Paul said that “vaccines are one of the greatest medical breakthroughs” and he was a “great fan of the smallpox vaccine.” Read the rest of this entry »


Commentary: ‘I Don’t Vaccinate My Child Because It’s My Right To Decide What Eliminated Diseases Come Roaring Back’

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The decision to cause a full-blown, multi-state pandemic of a virus that was effectively eliminated from the national population generations ago is my choice alone, and regardless of your personal convictions, that right should never be taken away from a child’s parent. Never.

90Andrea Martin writes: As a mother, I put my parenting decisions above all else. Nobody knows my son better than me, and the choices I make about how to care for him are no one’s business but my own. So, when other people tell me how they think I should be raising my child, I simply can’t tolerate it. Regardless of what anyone else thinks, I fully stand behind my choices as a mom, including my choice not to vaccinate my son, because it is my fundamental right as a parent to decide which eradicated measlesdiseases come roaring back.

“The bottom line is that I’m this child’s mother, and I know what’s best. End of story. Politicians, pharmaceutical companies—they don’t know the specific circumstances that made me decide to breathe new life into a viral infection that scientists and the nation at large celebrated stamping out roughly a century ago.”

The decision to cause a full-blown, multi-state pandemic of a virus that was effectively eliminated from the national population generations ago is my choice alone, and regardless of your personal convictions, that right should never be taken away from a child’s parent. Never.

“It’s simple: You don’t tell me how to raise my kids to avoid reviving a horrific illness that hasn’t been seen on our shores since our grandparents were children, and I won’t tell you how to raise yours.”

Say what you will about me, but I’ve read the information out there and weighed every option, so I am confident in my choice to revive a debilitating illness that was long ago declared dead and let it spread like wildfire from school to school, town to town, and state to state, until it reaches every corner of the country. Leaving such a momentous decision to someone you haven’t even met and who doesn’t care about your child personally—now that’s absurd!

University Of Iowa Begins Vaccinating Students For Mumps

Maybe I choose to bring back the mumps. Or maybe it’s diphtheria. Or maybe it’s some other potentially fatal disease that can easily pass among those too young or too medically unfit to be vaccinated themselves. But whichever highly communicable and formerly wiped-out disease that I opt to resurrect with a vengeance, it is a highly personal decision that only I and my family have the liberty to make. Read the rest of this entry »


Thanks a Lot: When You Get the Flu This Winter, You Can Blame Anti-Vaxxers

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We’re never going to modernize our outdated approach to preventing annual outbreaks as long as scientists remain stuck in nonsensical debates with the no-shots crowd.

Kent Sepkowitz complains: Now that flu season again is closing in on all of us, it’s time to trot out the annual debate about flu vaccines.

“The bigger problem is that the anti-vax crowd waits for this sort of mess to pounce, as if the biologic unpredictability of a living virus is enough to make their point.  Their point of course is a slippery one…”

On one side are pro-vaccine stalwarts like those in public health (and yours truly), who look at the needle and syringe and see lives saved and hospitalizations averted. On the inevitable other side stand vaxxthose against vaccination, people looking for plot, conspiracy, and intrigue in all the wrong places: the anti-vaccine brigade. Somehow, the discussion each year begins from scratch, Groundhog Day-style, with identical claims, counterclaims, and mud-slinging from all quarters.

 “To vaccinate against the dozens of potentially circulating strains would require a giant syringe more out of a vaudeville act than a nurse’s station.”

This year, it must be admitted, the discussion is a bit more dicey—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a few weeks ago that this season’s vaccine is not such a good match, meaning that the vaccine may prevent fewer cases of influenza. On average, the vaccine has an efficacy of about 60 percent. This number is arrived at by comparing proven influenza rates in groups that vaccinated and those that didn’t—a flu-shotfair-enough and simple-enough way to examine an extremely complex epidemiologic problem.

This year, the vaccine protection rate may be even lower because, even in the red-hot super-cool molecular science world of the 21st century, we still generate flu vaccine like it’s 1963. Here’s the staid approach: In winter each year, certified flu experts meet in a room and decide which of the dozens of strains circulating worldwide are likeliest to cause the most harm when the next winter’s flu season hits, eight to 10 months hence. They look at all sorts of data and then like weathermen forced by the ticking clock to make a judgment despite imperfect information, they vote three or four strains into the vaccine. Read the rest of this entry »


Data Says Anti-Vaccination Kooks Mostly White; More Blue States Afflicted