A Texas lawmaker is under fire for his anti-vaccination beliefs and for his attack on a famous vaccinologist, Newsweek reports.
Republican Representative Jonathan Stickland, who last week departed from the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus, called inoculations “sorcery” and got into a Twitter argument with Baylor College of Medicine professor Peter Hotez on Tuesday.
Hotez has long criticized vaccine exemptions for putting children “in harm's way for the financial gain of special and outside interest groups.” But Stickland claimed that Hotez was a hypocrite and argued that the parental right to choose whether or not to vaccinate their children is of utmost importance.
“You are bought and paid for by the biggest special interest in politics,” Stickland fired at Hotez. “Do our state a favor and mind your own business. Parental rights mean more to us than your self enriching ‘science.’”
In response, Hotez replied, “I don't take a dime from the vaccine industry. I develop neglected disease vaccines for the world's poorest people. And as a Texas pediatrician-scientist it is most certainly my business.” Hotez also called Stickland’s outlandish accusation “impressive, from a member of the Texas House of Representatives.”
Stickland refused to back down.
“Make the case for your sorcery to consumers on your own dime,” he replied. “Like every other business. Quit using the heavy hand of government to make your business profitable through mandates and immunity. It's disgusting.”
In a comment to Newsweek, Hotez said that his state is in a “dire situation.” In Texas alone, roughly 64,000 children are unvaccinated “due to an aggressive anti-vaccine lobby here tied big dollars in PAC funds.” He suggested that the work of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., whose father was the assassinated presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, has backed the anti-vaxxer movement through his Children’s Health Defense organization.
“It looks as though there are a few bad apples in the legislature who will do almost anything for those funds and recognition, including the endangerment of children and attacks on pediatricians and medical school professors,” Hotez said. “Hopefully order and decency will be restored soon.”