Thursday, February 12, 2015

Abbott: Parents should be able to opt out of vaccine mandates

From the Houston Chronicle:

Weighing in on a national debate, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott made clear this week that he supports laws that include exemptions to requirements that parents vaccinate their children.

"Abbott recognizes the public health benefits of vaccines and encourages all parents to have their children vaccinated, as he and the First Lady did with their daughter," spokeswoman Amelia Chasse said, but the governor "supports current Texas law that he believes strikes the right balance of requiring vaccinations while still allowing parents to opt out under certain circumstances."

More here.

This is something of a misleading headline. It makes Abbott out to be a fringe kook. I mean, okay, Abbott may very well be a fringe kook, but when you dig into the article just a little bit, it turns out that he's simply endorsing Texas law that's already on the books.

Still, though. Given that the current cultural climate across the nation is such that the anti-vax movement may very well be having a detrimental effect on pubic health, I wonder how good an idea it is to keep this "personal objection" opt-out available. As the article observes, there has been a massive uptick, more than tenfold, in the number of parents taking the exemption over the last decade. You've just got to wonder what, exactly, all these "personal objections" are.

At any rate, I wouldn't be surprised to discover that Abbott is pandering to a potential Texas anti-vax constituency with this. Indeed, it strikes me as a clever move, if that's what he's doing, supporting the science, but sort of also endorsing a kind of "libertarian" and "freedom" oriented stance. I mean, Republicans are the KINGS of nudge-wink politics, so why not? Support vaccines and attack vaccines at the same time. Best of all worlds.

Really, it's pretty sleazy if that's the case.