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Tue, Feb 17

Life, liberty, and the right to infect others with measles

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky confirmed his membership in the “doctors who shouldn’t have gone into politics” club with his comments last week supporting the right of parents who don’t want their kids to be immunized. While acknowledging vaccines to be “one of the greatest medical breakthroughs that we have,” Paul asserted that they should be voluntary. He talked of “walking, talking, normal kids” who had been left with “profound mental disorders” after getting several vaccines at once, and admitted that he had used an alternative schedule for his own children.

There is a lot of misinformation to unpack here. Yes, babies get more vaccines than they used to, but the vaccines themselves are far more purified. There is no support for the widely held belief that vaccines cause autism. At the end of the day, however, I suspect that many parents will sympathize with Paul’s assertion that “the state doesn’t own your children; parents own their children.”

Read more from Duke Professor of Pediatrics and science historian Jeffrey P. Baker writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer.