What every 2020 presidential candidate has said about vaccines

  • As a result of more parents forgoing vaccines for their children, the highly contagious measles virus made a comeback in 2018, with 200 confirmed cases around the country.
  • Experts say that pervasive internet misinformation around vaccine safety has led to “hot pockets” of areas where kids are growing up unvaccinated.
  • Healthcare, including big public health issues, will be at the forefront of the 2020 election.
  • In 2016, President Donald Trump falsely claimed that vaccines are linked to autism on multiple occasions.
  • Here’s what all the 2020 presidential candidates have said about vaccines.

The measles vaccine was introduced in the 1960s and US government declared measles eradicated in 2000. But the highly contagious disease made a comeback in the winter of 2018, with nearly 200 confirmed cases reported across the country.

The state of Washington declared a state of emergency earlier this year after 65 people in the state contracted the disease – with 47 of them young children under the age of 10 who had not been vaccinated.

Despite the broad scientific consensus that vaccines are safe and effective, as well as the dozens of studies discrediting any link between vaccines and autism, misinformation about vaccine safety abounds on the internet – and experts say it’s leading to an increase in kids in places like Washington going without their shots.

Read more:
From autism risks to mercury poisoning, here are 10 lies anti-vaxxers are spreading about the measles vaccine in the Pacific Northwest

An exhaustive new study of 650,000 Danish children again thoroughly disproved the validity of the connections between the measles vaccines and autism, but scientists worry that the anti-vax movement growing stronger over time means “we now live in a ‘fact-resistant’ world where data have limited persuasive value.”

On March 4, Ohio teenager Ethan Lindenberger, who began getting vaccines against his mother’s wishes after he turned 18, appeared before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labour, and Pensions to testify to the importance of vaccination and the impact the pervasive misinformation on Facebook had on his mother.

“I feel like if my mum didn’t interact with that information, and she wasn’t swayed by those arguments and stories, it could’ve potentially changed everything,” he told the Washington Post. “My entire family could’ve been vaccinated.”

Healthcare, including big public health issues, will be at the forefront of the 2020 election.

In 2016, President Donald Trump falsely claimed that vaccines are linked to autism on multiple occasions.

Here’s where all the 2020 presidential candidates stand on vaccines with the exception of Sen. Cory Booker and Julian Castro, who have not made recent public statements on the issue and did not return INSIDER’s requests for comment.

Over the years, President Donald Trump has repeatedly promoted baseless and disproven claims that vaccines are linked to autism — and named vaccine conspiracist Robert Kennedy Jr. to chair a government panel on vaccine safety,

“Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn’t feel good and changes – AUTISM. Many such cases!” Trump claimed without evidence in 2014.

Sources:Donald Trump, TIME

“When the polio and measles vaccines became available for the first time, parents lined up to make sure their kids would be protected,” Warren said at a congressional hearing in 2015. “They’d lived in a world of infectious diseases that destroyed children’s futures, and they desperately wanted to leave that world behind.”

Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesSen. Elizabeth Warren.


While Kamala Harris was California’s attorney general, her office defended the legality of a law that requires children to be vaccinated in order to attend both public and private schools.


Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper recorded a vaccination PSA while mayor of Denver, saying, “every year, thousands of young lives are saved by immunizations,” and urging parents to vaccinate their children.

Source: Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition

In 2018, Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Ed Markey introduced the Flu Vaccine Act, which would “support critical research at the National Institutes of Health to finally develop a universal vaccine,” Klobuchar said.

(AP Photo/Hannah Foslien, File)FILE – In this Nov. 6, 2018, file photo, Sen. Amy Klobuchar waves to supporters after winning re-election during the Democratic election night party in St. Paul, Minn. Klobuchar will be in Iowa on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. As potential Democratic White House hopefuls begin making trips to Iowa, the party will have to decide whether a pragmatist has a better chance to take the White House than someone with a more inspirational personal story.

Senator Amy Klobuchar

In 2018, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg encouraged his Twitter followers to get their flu shots for the winter. “Just did mine. So easy and quick, and a very important way to protect yourself, your family, and our community,” he wrote.

Pete Buttigieg/Twitter

Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke didn’t take a position on Texas legislation that would have removed religious and philosophical exemptions for mandatory vaccination to attend school, but voted against a 2017 bill that would have reduced funding for vaccine research.

Sources: Texans for Vaccine Choice, Beto O’Rourke/Twitter

“A straight line can be drawn between the advent of vaccines, antiseptics, antibiotics, and other elements of modern medicine and the vastly improved health of Americans,” entrepreneur and author Andrew Yang says on his campaign website. “Very few areas of technological innovation have even come close to that type of return on investment.”

Yang 2020

During the Zika virus epidemic in 2016, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii supported legislation to fast-track funding for Zika vaccine research and development.

Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesRep. Tulsi Gabbard.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand also pushed public health officials to develop a vaccine for the Zika virus in 2016, and helped secure $US1.6 million in funding for vaccine research and development in New York in 2009.

Sources: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand,Auburn Publications

Author and self-help guru Marianne Williamson discussed vaccines during a 2015 appearance on Bill Maher’s show, saying “there’s a public health issue that over-rides individual liberty here, even though I don’t want the government, as a rule, telling me what I can do and can’t do with my body for medical purposes.”

Ramesh Pathania/Mint via Getty Images: Marianne Williamson – Spiritual Author and Lecturer, during a session on Religion, Consciousness and Spirituality. What Next? at Hindustan Times Leadership Summit 2015

Real Time with Bill Maher

Rep. John Delaney of Maryland co-sponsored a congressional resolution “recognising the importance of vaccinations and immunizations” in 2017.


Washington Gov. Jay Inslee recently declared a state of emergency over the current measles outbreak in the state. He also supports legislation that would only allow exemption from vaccination for medical reasons, saying “vaccines are among the most effective ways to protect everyone from serious, preventable illnesses — especially young kids.”

Source: Associated Press

Most states allow children to attend school if they haven’t been vaccinated for medical, religious, or philosophical exemptions — but some states are trying to limit exemptions to medical reasons only.

Shayanne Gal/Business InsiderOnly three states have medical-only exemptions: California, West Virginia, and Mississippi.

In 2015, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said “I think obviously vaccinations work. Vaccination has worked for many, many years I am sensitive to the fact that there are some families who disagree, but the difficulty is if I have a kid who is suffering from an illness who is subjected to a kid who walks into a room without vaccines, that could kill that child and that’s wrong.”

The Daily Beast

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