Tetanus. Polio. Measles. Mumps and rubella. These are vaccinations Texas required of my sons before they started school in the ’80s.
Over the years, Hepatitis B. Chickenpox and Hepatitis A were added to the requirements.
Ten years ago the Texas Legislature appended meningitis to the list.
These vaccinations are required unless parents fill out extensive forms every semester for a religious exemption, or if they fill out even more extensive forms to obtain a medical exemption at the start of every school year.
Why not require vaccination for the virus now overwhelming Texas hospitals and cutting a swath of tragedy through the South?
The only legitimate “why not” at the moment is that children under 12 are not eligible.
The other, “why not,” tragically, is stinking, rotten, outrageous, stupid politics.
A Republican Legislature added meningitis to the required protections. That was smart. Interestingly, I don’t recall meningitis killing Americans by the hundreds of thousands and circling the globe with deadly variants.
What’s the difference now?
Stinking, rotten, stupid politics.
It’s the kind of politics that would lead a Republican audience to boo Donald Trump – Donald Trump! – for speaking favorably of life-saving vaccines.
How can these people call themselves pro-life? Of course, they do.
Stinking, rotten, stupid politics are at play as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis threaten school districts if temporary policies require students to wear masks.
It is unconscionable that ideologues who otherwise preach “local control” fight like hell against that very thing as schools seek to keep children – and their families – safe.
But of course, this is all about stinking, rotten, stupid politics.
I teach on a college campus. Every individual is masked. It is not convenient. It’s a hassle. But it’s the price paid for staying healthy and convening face to face.
The price too often paid for the absence of face coverings, and of course the absence of vaccinations, is gruesome, lingering death or long-term disability, and huge medical bills.
This shouldn’t take a judge. All it should take is the word of health professionals. However, when a state judge told DeSantis he couldn’t bar schools from mandating masks, he said mask mandates are “reasonable and consistent with the best scientific and medical opinion in the country.” That means DeSantis (as with Abbott) is unreasonably following his own base political instincts at the expense of public health.
The Florida judge also pointed to two court cases in which individual rights were limited by their impact on the rights of others.
“Freedom of choice” is the anti-mask, anti-vax line. This does not compute when the matter is contagious, deadly disease.
To paraphrase Oliver Wendell Holmes: Your freedom ends where my sinus cavity begins.
Back to vaccinations. Last week Abbott issued an edict that local governments could not require vaccinations. He said that such a matter has always been the responsibility of the state. Fair point.
He did, however, recommend that the Legislature, now in special session, discuss whether or not to add COVID-19 to the required vaccinations.
Ten years ago the addition of meningitis to the list was largely uncontroversial and passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature. Now, scandalously, the GOP is pushed around by anti-vaxers.
And so, we won’t get our hopes up.
The other day the man who was my family doctor in Texas wrote this on Facebook:
“Vaccinated and masked with an N-95, I walked through HEB noting that 95 percent of patrons were not masked. Then I sadly realized that one or two of these mask-less individuals may die of COVID-19 over the next six weeks.
“Oh, what would Charles Darwin think of us today? Evolutionary biology is playing out for all of us to witness and experience.”
Evolutionary biology driven by stinking, rotten, stupid politics.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.