Rand Paul: Vaccines Are Cool, But Have You Ever Tried Liberty?

Screenshot: C-SPAN (Twitter)

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is a doctor—a real, honest-to-god medical doctor. According to his congressional website, which repeatedly refers to him as “Dr. Paul,” he “graduated from Duke Medical School in 1988 [...] completed a general surgery internship at Georgia Baptist Medical Center in Atlanta, Ga., and completed his residency in ophthalmology at Duke University Medical Center.”

Nevertheless, despite being well-versed in the medical sciences, Rand Paul evidently believes that be best cure for what ails ya is a good ol’ dose of American freedom. Speaking on Tuesday during Senate Health Committee hearing, Paul argued against mandated vaccines, because, uh, well, let him explain:

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After initially running down a brief history of where vaccines have been helpful in saving lives, Paul used his time during the hearing to offer this bit of medical wisdom (emphasis mine):

As we contemplate forcing parents to choose this or that vaccine, I think it’s important to remember that force is not consistent with the American story, nor is force consistent with the liberty our forefathers sought when they came to America. I don’t think you have to have one or the other, though. I’m not here to say don’t vaccinate your kids—If this hearing is for persuasion I’m all for the persuasion. I’ve vaccinated myself and I’ve vaccinated my kids. For myself and my children I believe that the benefits of vaccines greatly outweighing the risks, but I still don’t favor giving up on liberty for a false sense of security.

Paul is technically correct that the science around vaccines, like everything, is constantly changing and adapting to new realities. But arguing against mandatory vaccination because of freedom, in the midst of measles outbreaks the government itself says was partially caused by “U.S. communities with pockets of unvaccinated people,” is the sort of wildly irresponsible rhetoric that could quite literally put lives at risk.

Then again, Tuesday’s statement is practically tame compared to the time Paul compared mandatory vaccines to “martial law” during an interview with InfoWars, the same gutter-level conspiracy hub that once claimed HIV was invented as a eugenics experiment to kill gay men.

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In any case, just remember, folks: Not dying of communicable diseases may be nice, but is it as nice as a big syringe full of liberty? Dr. Rand Paul, an elected member of the United States Senate and physician by trade, says no.

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About the author

Rafi Schwartz

Senior writer. When in doubt he'll have the soup.