Doctor fears measles outbreak after Republican anti-vaccine advocacy leads to fewer childhood shots
Kevin McCarthy speaking with supporters of President of the United States Donald Trump at a "Make America Great Again" campaign rally at Phoenix Goodyear Airport in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

A Washington Post report Monday detailed that activism against the coronavirus vaccine is now leading to a philosophy of being anti-vaccine across the board.

The Post cited a recent tweet from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who said, in all capital letters, that there shouldn't be any vaccine mandates at all. Other Republicans quickly followed.

Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) even went so far as to claim that vaccines were "unAmerican."

When asked to clarify their remarks, the Post explained that few of them are willing to do so. The latest GOP platform appears to be making polio great again.

"The 20th century was a century of incredible progress against leading killers, and much of that progress was because of vaccinations," said Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. "If we turn our back on vaccines at this moment where vaccines are really having a scientific heyday . . . I think that would be tragic, and it would cause a lot of unnecessary suffering and death, particularly among children."

The military and schools have long required public health mandates to help stop diseases, Jha told the Post.

"Why would we want to roll back the miracles of modern medicine?" he asked. "That defies the kind of logic of where we should be heading as a country."

Other Republicans are in favor of vaccines but have made it clear that it shouldn't be a mandate. However, that has been the approach for the past year and the result has been that the least vaccinated states are quickly suffering from COVID outbreaks, increased hospitalizations, clogged ICU beds and increasing deaths.

"The problem is that, with COVID-19, with the social disruptions, there was a steep decline in childhood vaccinations, including things like [measles-mumps-rubella] vaccines and especially teenagers getting the HPV vaccine for cervical cancer and other cancers," said Dr. Peter Hotez from Baylor University. "It's starting to rebound, but my worry is that there will be a spillover effect from all of this anti-vaccine aggression that we're seeing and that we're not going to get back to baseline."

Hotez explained that it's a growing anti-science stance by Republicans who have taken issues like climate change and taken it to deny masks are helpful and vaccines save lives.

"Where I'm holding my breath is next winter-spring, which historically is when we saw measles epidemics in the pre-vaccine era. I'm worried about the potential of seeing a measles outbreak in the U.S.," he said.

Read the full report at the Washington Post.