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Arizona lawmaker calls mandatory vaccines a ‘communist’ concept

(Facebook Photo/ Representative Kelly Townsend)

PHOENIX – One day after Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey declared a pro-vaccination agenda, a state lawmaker called mandatory vaccines a “communist” concept.

“I read yesterday that the idea is being floated that if not enough people get vaccinated, then we are going to force them to,” Republican Rep. Kelly Townsend said in a Facebook post Thursday morning.

“The idea that we force someone to give up their liberty for the sake of the collective is not based on American values but rather, Communist.”

In the post, Townsend says she has a child who was injured by vaccines.

She said money should be spent “on discovering what in these vaccines is causing so much injury, instead of insisting on taking your liberty in the name of the collective.”

On Wednesday, Ducey said he would veto any legislation that would lead to fewer vaccinations.

“I’m not going to sign any law that doesn’t promote or extend vaccinations in the state of Arizona,” the Republican governor said. “We want to see more of our kids being vaccinated rather than fewer.”

A state House committee last week approved three bills that doctors and public health officials say would confuse parents, add unnecessary steps for doctors and ultimately reduce the rate of children receiving immunizations.

The measures are supported by people who doubt the scientific consensus that vaccines are safe and effective.

Nationwide, there have been more measles cases in two months this year than in all of 2017.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 159 cases so far this year in 10 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. That compares to 372 cases last year, and 120 in 2017.

Federal health officials told Congress Wednesday that part of the rise is due to misinformation that makes some parents balk at a crucial vaccine.

Yet the vaccine is hugely effective and very safe — so the rise of measles cases “is really unacceptable,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious disease chief at the National Institutes of Health.

About 92 percent of U.S. children have gotten the combination vaccine that protects against measles, mumps and rubella, known as the MMR vaccine.

In the late 1990s, one study linked MMR vaccine to autism but that study was found to be a fraud, and Fauci said later research found no risk of autism from the vaccine.

Still, misinformation about MMR safety is widespread.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing bemoaned what’s called “vaccine hesitancy,” meaning when people refuse or delay vaccinations.

The MMR requires two shots, one around the first birthday and a second between age 4 and 6. Full vaccination is 97 percent effective at preventing measles.

The CDC says 1 in 12 children doesn’t receive the first dose on time, and in some places vaccination rates are far lower than the national average. For example, an outbreak in Washington state is linked to a community where only about 80 percent of children were properly vaccinated.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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