There’s only one responsible stance for a U.S. president when it comes to vaccinating schoolchildren. Just say yes.
Vaccines are among history’s great public health advances; immunization has saved generations from lethal and crippling childhood diseases. The vast majority of physicians share this view, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the World Health Organization, and most Americans consider immunization to be a societal obligation. That’s why California last year passed one of the nation’s toughest vaccine mandates.
Decades of studies and volumes of data have shown vaccines to be generally safe and effective. So why has Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party candidate for the White House and Harvard-trained physician, been talking as if the matter is up for debate?
Last week, Stein told the Washington Post that while vaccines “have been absolutely critical in ridding us of the scourge of many diseases,” there “were real questions” about their safety, and “I don’t know if all of them have been addressed.”
Pandering to the anti-vax fringe has become an epidemic in this presidential campaign.
Say what? You mean the way there used to be real questions about whether the world was round? Because, as with vaccines, the jury has spoken on that.
Stein knows such equivocation plays to anti-vax voters, who laid the groundwork for the Disneyland measles outbreak. She later clarified that she supports vaccines and just thinks federal drug regulators are too swayed by the pharmaceutical industry; her spokeswoman told a member of The Sacramento Bee editorial board this week that Stein “is not anti-vax.”
Good to know. But it’s time to stop pandering to this element just to get a couple of votes on the margin. This election has been clouded enough with dog-whistle science denial. The Republican primary featured Donald Trump peddling discredited claims linking vaccines and autism, and Rand Paul and Ben Carson, who are physicians, repeating fringe assertions that delaying immunization was safer than the CDC’s standard schedule. It isn’t.
Stein may be a third-party candidate, but she has a high profile now, and she’s a doctor. It’s disingenuous for her to play fast and loose with public health.
She knows the right answer to the immunization question. Hillary Clinton shouldn’t look like a rogue genius just for saying the obvious, as she did last year, when she tweeted: “The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork.”