When doctor and vaccine advocate Peter Hotez posted a tweet criticizing vaccine exemptions in the state the state of Texas this Tuesday, he probably expected the usual onslaught of anti-vaxxer trolls in his mentions. So he was a little taken aback to see an elected state representative attack him with some of the most backward anti-vax logic he’s seen.
“Children of #Texas have been placed in harm’s way for the financial gain of special & outside interest groups,” Hotez tweeted this Tuesday. “Calling on our TX elected leaders to say “NO MAS” and stand up for our children!”
That’s when GOP Rep. Jonathan Sticklandchimed in, accusing Hotez of being “bought and paid for by the biggest special interest in politics.”
You are bought and paid for by the biggest special interest in politics. Do our state a favor and mind your own business. Parental rights mean more to us than your self enriching “science.” #txlege
— Jonathan Stickland (@RepStickland) May 7, 2019
“Do our state a favor and mind your own business,” Strickland added. “Parental rights mean more to us than your self enriching “science.”
Accusing people who publicly talk about the benefits of vaccines of being ‘paid shills’ is one of the oldest tactics of anti-vax trolls, and Hotez was having none of it.
“Wow that’s impressive, from a member of the Texas House of Representatives,” Hotez replied. “Sir, as you know, I don’t take a dime from the vaccine industry. I develop neglected disease vaccines for the world’s poorest people. And as a Texas pediatrician-scientist it is most certainly my business.”
Of course, as is the case with most anti-vaxxers, Stickland wasn’t convinced and continued his tirade, calling vaccines “sorcery.”
“Make the case for your sorcery to consumers on your own dime,” Strickland tweeted. “Like every other business. Quit using the heavy hand of government to make your business profitable through mandates and immunity. It’s disgusting.”
The same day of Stickland and Hotez’s exchange, the Houston Chronicle published a report saying that despite the resurgence of measles across the nation, vaccine exemptions in the state of Texas are up.
From the Houston Chronicle:
The number increased 14 percent in 2018-2019, continuing a 15-year-long trend that public health officials worry is leaving communities vulnerable to the resurgence of preventable diseases such as measles, which has been confirmed this year in 23 states, including Texas. The number of measles cases this year is the largest since 1994.
As The Washington Post points out, measles cases are the highest in the U.S. since the disease was declared eradicated two decades ago. At least 764 cases across 23 states have been reported this year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Correction: A former version of this article mistakenly spelled Stickland’s name as “Strickland.”
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