GOP Governor Candidates Embrace Anti-Vaxxer Skepticism

At least three Republican gubernatorial candidates have voiced skepticism about required vaccinations of children.

Connecticut Republican Bob Stefanowski came under fire after it was revealed that he told a Tea Party group last year that requiring children to be vaccinated should “depend on the vaccination.”

“We shouldn’t be dumping a lot of drugs into kids for no reason,” he said.

An aide later clarified that “while [Stefanowski] believes that the best practice is to vaccinate your children, he does not believe that the government should be able to legally force you to do so.”

Oregon Republican Dr. Knute Buehler – an actual doctor – declared at a debate earlier this month that “parents should have the right to opt out” of vaccinations “for personal beliefs, for religious beliefs or even if they have strong alternative medical beliefs.”

“I think that gives people option and choice and that’s the policy I would continue to pursue as Oregon’s governor,” he added.

Oklahoma Republican frontrunner Kevin Sitt also said earlier this year that “we’ve got six children and we don’t vaccinate, we don’t do vaccinations on all of our children.”

“We definitely pick and choose which ones we’re gonna do,” he added. “It’s gotta be up to the parents, we can never mandate that. I think there’s legislation right now that are trying to mandate that to go to public schools, it’s absolutely wrong.”

Doctors beg Buehler to retract his statement: 3 local medical organizations asked the doctor to reverse his position citing that “American Medical Association, like many other national medical organizations, accept the scientific consensus recommending a full slate of childhood vaccines,” The Oregonian reported.

"Studies show that 95 percent of the community needs to be vaccinated in order to achieve community immunity," Oregon Pediatric Society President Carla McKelvey told the outlet. "We urge Dr. Buehler to reconsider his position so that it is evidence-based and aligns with the medical and public health experts who develop vaccine-related recommendations and legislation."

Buehler's campaign said he is standing by his comments.

Journalist warns of anti-Vaxxer rise: Jay Michaelson, who covers the issue for The Daily Beast, explained that “just a few years ago, the anti-vaxxer 'movement' was a small fringe group of weirdos. At first, they were just ludicrous. Then, when the first kids started getting measles, they were dangerous wingnuts. Now, they are running for governor as the Republican nominees in at least three states. At least one is likely to win. God help us.”

Support for vaccines falls: A poll by Research America found that 70% of Americans say vaccines for diseases like measles and polio are “very important” – that number is down from 80% who said it was “very important” in 2008.

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