Vaccinations not about ‘freedom’

A single-dose vial of the measles-mumps-rubella virus vaccine live, or MMR vaccine is shown at the practice of Dr. Charles Goodman in Northridge, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

The recent Disneyland measles outbreak should serve as an opportunity to finally silence the anti-vaccine movement.

Spreading with startling speed from a popular family vacation destination, it has driven home the point that measles can still be a serious threat, and un-vaccinated kids are part of the problem. Parents of sickened children who chose not to vaccinate for non-medical reasons had made a clearly reckless choice.

But then politicians waded in.

On Monday, two potential Republican presidential candidates announced that parents should be free to make such a dangerous decision.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called vaccinations a matter of “parental choice” in an interview during a visit to a pharmaceutical company in the United Kingdom. Mr. Christie’s office backtracked in a later statement saying that the governor believes that vaccinating is the right choice.

But the damage had been done.

Later the same day, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., made an even more objectionable entrance into the vaccination debate.

“I have heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines,” said Sen. Paul. The statement references thoroughly discredited research linking the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella with autism.

He added that vaccinations should be voluntary because “the state doesn’t own your children.”

The fact that Sen. Paul is a physician makes his willful disregard of established medical science all the more perplexing — and disturbing.

Both men should be strongly rebuked for using their position of influence to further a dangerous, anti-scientific movement that puts children at risk of potentially deadly and completely preventable diseases.

Public school students nationwide are legally required to receive certain vaccinations to attend school. All states rightfully allow for medical exemptions, and all but two — Mississippi and West Virginia — allow for religious exemptions.

Twenty states offer the misguided option of refusing vaccinations for personal or philosophical reasons.

Vaccination is not a matter of personal freedom, and it is certainly not a liberal or conservative issue.

It’s the right thing to do.