No one ever said that politicians have to smart. Just look around our current political climate and it won't take long to figure out that not all policymakers - on the state and federal level - are the sharpest tools in the shed.
And this is no truer than in the case of a Texas lawmaker - and adamant anti-vaxxer - who recently made one of the dumbest, and we mean dumbest comments we've ever heard about vaccinating the nation's children.
Bill Zedler, a state representative from the "Lone Star State," thinks that vaccinations shouldn't be mandatory because of "antibiotics." But maybe Zedler is on to something, maybe we have a misunderstanding of the properties of antibiotics and vaccines.
Here is what Zedler recently had to say about mandatory vaccines:
“They want to say people are dying of measles. Yeah, in third-world countries they’re dying of measles,” Zedler said in remarks obtained by the Texas Observer. “Today, with antibiotics and that kind of stuff, they’re not dying in America.” Zedler says he’s adamantly in favor of “freedom of conscience” and against mandatory vaccination. “This is not the Soviet Union, you know.”
Zedler made his ridiculous statements when he came out in support of a bill in the Texas state house that would ban the state's health department from tracking vaccine exemptions.
The introduction of this bill comes in the middle of one of the nation's biggest measles outbreaks since the virus was believed to have been irradicated in 2000. But that's no longer the case due to people like Zedler who are so ill-informed, so immune to facts that they actually believe that antibiotics - which fight bacteria - can actually fight viruses like the measles.
Zedler's comments aren't going unchecked, as one of the state's top vaccination researchers noted in the same Texas Observer article.
"This is the modus operandi for anti-vaxxers in Texas: to promote exemptions, obfuscate and minimize transparency," said Peter Hotez, dean for the National School for Tropical Medicine at Baylor Medical School. "To do this in the middle of a measles outbreak in Texas is especially unconscionable."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 127 confirmed cases of the measles in the United States so far in 2019, with eight of those cases coming from Zedler's home state of Texas. Most of these cases have been attributed to the growing number of vaccination exemptions, which according to the Texas Department of State Health Services, the number of those exemptions has climbed from 2,300 in 2003 to nearly 53,000 in 2017.
Let's hope that the people behind those 53,000 exemptions have a better understanding of medicine than Zedler, but chances are...they don't.
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