Today, I am calling on Lieutenant Governor Zuckerman to admit his efforts to preserve the philosophical exemption for vaccines in 2015 were a mistake.
Vermont needs elected leaders who will support proven public health measures like childhood immunization against preventable diseases.
In 2015, the Vermont legislature closed a loophole that allowed parents to “opt out” on “philosophical” grounds of vaccinating their children against preventable and deadly diseases before they were enrolled in school. However, Lt. Governor Zuckerman fought aggressively against this proven public health measure. He supported an amendment to preserve the philosophical exemption for vaccines. He maintained that position in a VPR interview. He said he’d come to believe that the pharmaceutical industry is foisting vaccinations on the public to make money, not fight disease. And, he used the word ‘disputed’ to describe the science of vaccination safety.
For these positions, Lt. Governor Zuckerman has earned the recognition of anti-vaccination organizations. According to Health Choice Vermont, he has “a record of supporting choice while in the Senate.” Jennifer Stella of Vermont Coalition for Vaccine Choice said that many vaccine choice advocates considered him to be a “hero.” They still place some of his ads on their Facebook page.
Today, Lieutenant Governor Zuckerman says vaccines should be free and accessible. That is not the same as saying people who want to enroll in child cares and schools must keep their immunizations up to date.
Some people have medical conditions that prevent them from getting some vaccinations. They count on the rest of us to do what we can to be safe, so their lives are not at risk. We must come together in support of proven public health measures like childhood immunizations for all who are physically able, so that we do our best to keep immunocompromised Vermonters safe.
Any public health platform that opposes community health will not beat Governor Scott in November. Retired UVM political scientist Garrison Nelson says, “David Zuckerman’s anti-vaxxer stance is a non-winner in a state as enlightened as Vermont.”
Lt. Governor Zuckerman, please admit that your 2015 stance on vaccinations was a mistake.