Requiring parents to vaccinate their children prior to entering the public school system goes against the fundamental principle of liberty on which the United States was founded, according to Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who argued in favor of parental choice during a Senate Health Committee hearing on Tuesday.
Not only does personal liberty outweigh societal concerns over disease outbreaks, Paul insisted, but opting against immunization is a reasonable choice considering that vaccines are not 100 percent safe — an opinion rejected by medical professionals.
“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,” The Daily Beast quoted Paul as saying.
“I don't think you have to have one or the other, though,” he continued. “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 outweighing the risks, but I still don’t favor giving up on liberty for a false sense of security.”
The Republican also pushed the notion that vaccines cannot be trusted as safe, saying: “It is wrong to say that there are no risks to vaccines. Even the government admits that children are sometimes injured by vaccines.”
But as The Daily Beast noted, nearly “all medical literature shows that the benefits of vaccines dramatically outweigh the limited risks,” and concerns over supposed links between vaccines and autism have been debunked.
One of Paul’s colleagues, Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), took issue with the Kentucky lawmaker’s opinion and began by saying he would “give some color to what Senator Paul said.”
Cassidy “proceeded to go through cases of individuals who ended up with terrible diseases simply because they didn’t think getting vaccinated was important.”
Further, immunizations are only required for children entering public schools, Cassidy, who is a physician, reminded Paul.
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 can not infect other people.”