Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Political Immunity

By Simon Grose

Vaccination sceptics are active in all vaccinated societies, but which side of politics they inhabit is a matter of national difference.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Disneyland created a focus for the brace of Republican hopefuls as the preliminary rounds of the next US Presidential election got going late last year. A woman infected with measles had stayed at the spiritual home of Mickey and Donald, spreading the virus on rides in planes and cars that caused a rash of new cases in several states.

Vaccination against measles began in the US in 1963. Before then, the country recorded up to 500,000 cases of measles each year. In the first decade of this century fewer than 200 cases were recorded annually, but numbers have been climbing since 2012 and last year spiked to over 600.

What’s this got to do with Republican presidential candidates? The emerging anti-vaccination sentiment in the US that’s nudging infection rates upwards is mainly a right wing thing. So as they seek the support of their party, in which the Tea Party faction sets the agenda, Republican candidates are paying deference to that sentiment.

This explains why New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who sits left of the Republican centre, said that “parents need to have some measure of choice” about whether their children are vaccinated. Less surprising is the view of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul that the measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine can cause autism. Despite his medical qualifications as an opthamologist, this is consistent with his purist...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.