Rep. Bill Foster: Opposing vaccines is wrong
A week after a measles case was confirmed in the suburbs, U.S. Rep. Bill Foster spoke on the House floor Wednesday to criticize the idea that vaccinations should be optional.
The Naperville Democrat emphasized his science background as the House's only physicist and took to task officials who have said vaccinations should not be mandatory.
"Measles may not spread as fast as erroneous sound bites and tweets, but they both have the potential to cause a great amount of damage," Foster said.
A recent outbreak linked to Disneyland has thrust the disease into the political arena and raised questions about whether parents who are concerned over potential side effects have the right not to vaccinate their children. The issue even raised its head in local elections recently when Wauconda village board candidate Jason Anderson said some materials used in vaccines "are harmful to individuals' health."
Local public health officials haven't reported additional local cases of measles beyond a case that came about in mid-January. By comparison, cases in California have risen to more than 90.
The measles vaccination is required for schoolchildren in Illinois, but exemptions are available for medical and religious reasons. Experts say the disease is highly contagious.
"I know that many of my colleagues have reminded us that they are not scientists, as they use this as an excuse for their advocacy of bad public policy," Foster said. "But it does not take a scientist to realize that opposing vaccines is wrong."