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Rand Paul, the great libertarian and self-certified "eye doctor," had some very deep thoughts yesterday on Liberty and Freedom and the right of parents to let their kids and other people risk dying of communicable disease for the sake of Liberty. The Senate Health Education, Labor and Pensions Committee was holding an actual hearing -- yes, a US Senate hearing in the Trump era! -- on the threats posed to public health by recent measles outbreaks, and the Senator from Kentucky made a very important speech about health and freedom, and the dangers of evil government control. Why, if we mandate that children be vaccinated, aren't we really using VIOLENCE to make people conform, just for some alleged health benefits like "avoiding measles outbreaks" like the two currently hitting the USA?


Here's the wise advocate of freedom saying sure, vaccines are probably good, but what about LIBETY?

Word for Word: Sen. Rand Paul says vaccines give a false sense of security (C-SPAN) www.youtube.com

Paul began with some suggestions that vaccines just might be very dangerous, because yes, any medical treatment has risks, but he didn't mention that the benefits far outweigh the very rare, and usually minor, side effects. Then he fretted that if government can mandate vaccines that definitely work, like those against measles, mumps, and rubella, what's to stop power-mad bureaucrats from mandating flu shots? After all, flu shots have a far iffier success rate because flu mutates so quickly! And five states already mandate flu shots for kids attending child care facilities, isn't that tyrannical?

Then it was time for the flag-waving freedom to let your kids get sick and infect immunocompromised people stuff:

As we contemplate forcing parents to choose this or that vaccine, I think it's important to remember that force is not consistent with the American story, nor is force consistent with the liberty our forefathers sought when they came to America.

How true this is! The Pilgrims on the Oregon Trail were good with Virginia Dare dying of the smallpox dysentery, and that's why people drank more beer than water in colonial times. But honestly, we should not be forcing anyone to keep their children safe, because who even knows whether vaccines work at all?

I don't think you have to have one or the other, though. I'm not here to say don't vaccinate your kids. If this hearing is for persuasion I'm all for the persuasion. I've vaccinated myself and I've vaccinated my kids. For myself and my children I believe that the benefits of vaccines greatly outweigh the risks, but I still don't favor giving up on liberty for a false sense of security.

Paul dismissed the science on whether unvaccinated kids actually spread disease to people who are unable to get vaccinated, even though it's a very real risk that the CDC warns about. Public health officials have linked both of this year's measles outbreaks to overseas travelers spreading the disease in communities with low vaccination rates. But hey, what level of risk to other people is enough to give up your essential freedom to make incredibly bad decisions? As to that "false sense of security," we suppose a really charitable reading of the comment is that Paul was talking only about the flu vaccine, which is less effective than those for the major childhood illnesses, but since it's still recommended for most people at risk for flu, it's still a stupid comment.

The hearing also heard testimony from Ethan Lindenberger, the hero teen who became Internet Famous when he posted to Reddit about his plans to get himself vaccinated in defiance of his mother's wishes -- she'd raised him without vaccinating him or his younger siblings and he made it to 18, proving he was just fine without. But like any rebellious teenager, he rejected her Facebook-derived anti-vaxxer views for the siren call of science, and went out to get vaccinated because he was 18 and his mom was no longer the boss of him. Not that she believed the lies that he did:

When he confronted his mother with information from the CDC which states in large, bold lettering that "there is no link between vaccines and autism," Lindenberger said his mother responded, "That's what they want you to think."

Mom believes the CDC is all just a front for Big Pharma, you see. And where did young mom get that science nonfact? Facebook and confirmation bias, said Lindenberger, in both his testimony and an interview with the Washington Post.

"I feel like if my mom didn't interact with that information, and she wasn't swayed by those arguments and stories, it could've potentially changed everything," he said. "My entire family could've been vaccinated."

Lindenberger said that he believed his older siblings, who predate Facebook, had been vaccinated. He said his younger siblings have not.

In the Senate hearing Tuesday, there was bipartisan agreement (apart from Rand Paul) that science is real and vaccines work.

"Does your mother get most of her information online?" asked Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.).

"Yes. . . . Mainly Facebook," Lindenberger replied.

"And where do you get most of your information?" Isakson asked.

"Not Facebook," Lindenberger said, laughing. "From CDC, World Health Organization, scientific journals and also cited information from those organizations . . . accredited sources."

Heck, another Republican, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, even offered to "give some color to" Rand Paul's strange obsession with freedom from science:

Senator Bill Cassidy Spars With Rand Paul Over Flu Vaccine Immunization www.youtube.com

A physician himself, Cassidy noted that the only requirement with regards to vaccination was that a children get them before entering the public school system.

Addressing Paul without looking at him, Cassidy concluded: "If you are such a believer in liberty that you do not wish to be vaccinated then there should be a consequence and that is that you cannot infect other people."

OK, but isn't that tyrannical somehow? Freedom is all about being able to do what you want even if others have to get sick because of it.

[Daily Beast / BuzzFeed News / WaPo]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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