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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, March 09, 2019 1:00 am

Braun stands with parents on vaccine choice

Ethan Lindenberger, the Ohio 18-year-old who challenged his mother's anti-vaccination position and chose to begin a course of immunizations, might have offered the most impressive testimony on Capitol Hill this week.

“I approached my mother numerous times trying to explain that vaccines are safe and that my family should be vaccinated, approaching even with articles from the CDC explicitly claiming that ideas that vaccines cause autism and extremely dangerous consequences were incorrect,” Lindenberger told the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. “In one such instance, she responded with, 'That's what they want you to think.' ”

Sen. Mike Braun, R-Indiana, missed part of the testimony because he was chairing another subcommittee hearing, but he's holding firm for a parent's right to choose not to vaccinate.

“That's a serious topic everywhere, I think, and for me it would mean parents call the shots,” he told CBS News' Elaine Quijano. “I'm a firm believer that parents kind of guide the choice there.”

Braun said Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, had a point when he said he didn't support “giving up liberty for a false sense of security” on vaccines.

But another of his Republican colleagues on the health panel passionately disagreed.

“You may or may not know that I'm a physician,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. “And I've seen people who have not been vaccinated who require liver transplantation because they were not ... Or ended up with terrible diseases if for no other reason than they didn't understand vaccination was important.”

Cassidy said hospitals routinely require employees to be immunized against the flu because they understand the importance of community immunity.

“If the nurse's aide is not immunized, she can be a Typhoid Mary, if you will, bringing disease to many who are immuno-compromised,” he said.

Cassidy said there should be repercussions for parents who don't follow state immunization requirements for school-age children.

“There should be a consequence, and that is you cannot infect other people,” he said.

Only seven states allow minors to be vaccinated without parental consent. Indiana is not among them.