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Texas lawmaker says vaccines should be optional because antibiotics exist

Updated Feb 28th, 2019 9:38AM EST
bill zedler vaccines
Image: LYNN BO BO/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

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When it comes to public health, one of the biggest risks is elected officials having absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. Republican Bill Zedler, a Texas state representative, recently spoke about the growing measles outbreak concern and the prospect of making vaccines mandatory to prevent widespread illness of the high-contagious disease. It probably won’t shock you to learn that he’s firmly against vaccination requirements.

As the Texas Observer reports, Zedler continued his anti-vaccination push by voicing his support for a new bill that would make it even easier for parents to opt out of mandatory vaccinations of their children. His reasoning is flawed, to say the least.

“They want to say people are dying of measles. Yeah, in third-world countries they’re dying of measles,” Zedler said, according to reports. “Today, with antibiotics and that kind of stuff, they’re not dying in America.”

It’s admirable that Zedler has enough faith in modern medicine to believe that antibiotics fight the measles but unfortunately it’s simply not true. Antibiotics, by their very nature, fight bacterial infections, not viruses. Measles, a highly-contagious virus with no cure, is easily prevented by vaccines that most people receive during childhood.

The measles vaccine is usually given as part of a battery of vaccinations that prevent illnesses like mumps and rubella, and are effective in 97% of people. Measles, which was once considered wiped out in the United States thanks to vaccination efforts, is now making a comeback, especially in states with lax vaccination laws.

The Texas Observer notes that both measles and mumps are popping up again in Texas as well, with mumps cases reaching an all-time high in 2017 and several confirmed measles cases already in 2019.