Tag: Liberty

What Did Benjamin Franklin Say About Vaccines?

Wait, we had vaccines when Ben Franklin was around?

You can learn what Benjamin Franklin thought about vaccines from his autobiography.
You can learn what Benjamin Franklin thought about vaccines from his autobiography.

That was a long time ago.

What Did Benjamin Franklin Say About Vaccines?

Well, we had variolation

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Benjamin Franklin

The Benjamin Franklin quote many anti-vaccine folks are using these days (do anti-vaccine folks get daily talking points to use?) doesn’t really have anything to do with vaccines though, at least not in the way that they think it does.

“The Franklin quote he nodded to on Tuesday, ironically, means the opposite of what Paul was arguing. When Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety,” he was opposing the Penn family’s attempt to carve out an exception for themselves from the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s attempt to tax their lands for the collective good of frontier defense. The liberty Franklin was defending was the liberty the rest of us deserve now, too — liberty to choose to protect ourselves.”

Saad B Omer on Rand Paul is wrong: Vaccines are no threat to liberty

It should be clear that Ben Franklin’s quote shouldn’t be used to attack vaccine mandates. If anything, it can be used to attack free-riders and those who skip or delay vaccines and try to hide in the herd!

“It is a quotation that defends the authority of a legislature to govern in the interests of collective security. It means, in context, not quite the opposite of what it’s almost always quoted as saying but much closer to the opposite than to the thing that people think it means.”

Benjamin Wittes onBen Franklin’s Famous ‘Liberty, Safety’ Quote Lost Its Context In 21st Century

Interestingly, Benjamin Franklin did famously talk about vaccines, or at least smallpox variolation.

“In 1736 I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by the small-pox, taken in the common way. I long regretted bitterly, and still regret that I had not given it to him by inoculation. This I mention for the sake of parents who omit that operation, on the supposition that they should never forgive themselves if a child died under it; my example showing that the regret may be the same either way, and that, therefore, the safer should be chosen.”

Benjamin Franklin

He got a little temporary safety, avoiding the side effects of variolation, but what were the consequences? What did he lose?

What do you lose when you make decisions about vaccines based on vaccine misinformation?

What do folks like Rand Paul have to gain by speaking out against vaccines?

More on Benjamin Franklin and Vaccines

The Ethan Lindenberger Story Isn’t Over

As most folks know, Ethan Lindenberger is the Ohio teen who got himself vaccinated over the objections of his mother, who had always believed that vaccines are dangerous.

What will Thanksgiving dinner be like at the Lindenberger home?

During his testimony before Congress, Sen Isakson joked that “I would love to be at Thanksgiving dinner at your house. It would be a heck of a discussion.”

Hopefully the family is talking again by Thanksgiving…

The Ethan Lindenberger Story Isn’t Over

Surprisingly, instead of simply supporting her son’s decision, even if she didn’t agree with it, Ethan’s mom is actually speaking out against him.

“Ethan has had no education at all in this,” said Wheeler. “None, again, he was asking three months ago where to go to get vaccinated and now he’s sitting on a committee voicing his opinion for research he’s done on the internet?”

She even seems to have bought into some of the conspiracy theories folks have created about them.

“They’ve made him the poster child for the pharmaceutical industry.”

Jill Wheeler

And unfortunately, as if they hadn’t done enough damage to this family, anti-vaccine folks are doubling down and continue to exploit them.

Ethan’s mom and brother even went out to California and appeared with Del Bigtree on his “show.”

So what led Ethan’s mom on the road to questioning vaccines?

“I remember going in and getting the chicken pox vaccine and after they had administered it, they said, well, you’re going to have to come back in about 10 to 15 years to have it redone. He’s going to have it again. I said well wait a minute, I thought that these vaccinations were forever. They were like well, no, you’re going to have to get it again in 10 years and probably 10 years after that.

I said then why don’t I just let him get the chicken pox? I had it. All my sisters had it. Everyone I know has had the chicken pox. Why don’t I just let him have the chicken pox? Oh no, you don’t want to do that. Just come every 10 years…

That’s when I went home and said somethings not adding up, somethings not adding up, I was always under the assumption that vaccines were a forever thing… I started researching…”

Jill Wheeler

What jumps out the most about this story? There has never been a recommendation to repeat the chicken pox vaccine every ten years. In fact, when it first came out, it was thought that it would be a one time dose. A second dose was later added because we were seeing some mild breakthrough infections.

The only vaccine that we get every 10 years is the one that protects us against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Would you like your child to get tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis so that they have natural immunity and don’t need the shot?

Good luck.

In addition to being very deadly, neither tetanus nor diphtheria infections provide you with natural immunity. And even natural pertussis infections don’t provide lifelong immunity.

We also learned that Ethan’s mom didn’t start her research on Facebook, which isn’t surprising, as Facebook didn’t exist when she first got started. But the anti-vaccine misinformation was there, as the anti-vaccine movement isn’t new. And at some point, she shifted to Facebook, YouTube and other internet sources, and that’s what she used to “debate” her son.

Del Bigtree: Sounds like a kid that goes off and you know starts smoking pot and shooting heroin.

Jill Wheeler: That’s what I’m saying, instead of that, he went and got vaccinated.

Del Bigtree: That’s how you rebel.

Jill Wheeler: That’s how you rebel.

Del Bigtree: Keep your pharmaceutical products I could get hooked on oxycontin, but I’m gonna go with vaccines.

For folks that talk about vaccine choice a lot, they don’t seem to like the choice that Ethan Lindenberger made…

“Well I think that us, taking a voice against what my brother is doing is going to be able to make an effort towards the Liberty movement to make sure that this lies an individual decision. “

Isaac Linderberger

They also ignore the fact that vaccine mandates don’t force anyone to get vaccinated and that their choice to skip or delay vaccines puts others at risk.

“If you believe in Liberty, that’s fine, don’t get immunized. But I don’t think that you need to necessarily expose others to disease.”

Sen Bill Cassidy

They also miss that by making a decision based on misinformation, they aren’t truly making an informed decision.

More on The Ethan Lindenberger Story


Why Did Anti-Vaccine Folks Applaud Rand Paul’s Testimony at the Senate Health Committee Hearing on Vaccines and Outbreaks?

Wait, what?

Why Did Anti-Vaccine Folks Applaud Rand Paul's Testimony at the Senate Health Committee Hearing on Vaccines and Outbreaks?

Anti-vaccine folks actually applauded Rand Paul’s testimony at the Senate Health Committee Hearing on Vaccines and Outbreaks?

Why Did Anti-Vaccine Folks Applaud Rand Paul’s Testimony at the Senate Health Committee Hearing on Vaccines and Outbreaks?

Surprisingly, many of the things he said weren’t anti-vaccine.

I guess they ignored those parts…

  • …given the choice, I do believe that the benefits of most vaccines vastly outweigh the risks.
  • I’m not hear to say don’t vaccinate your kids… if this hearing is for persuasion, I’m all for the persuasion. I vaccinated myself. I vaccinated my kids.
  • For myself and my kids, I believe that the benefits of vaccines greatly outweigh the risks…

So why were they cheering?

Because that’s not all he said…

“Today, instead of persuasion, many governments have taken to mandating a whole host of vaccines, including vaccines for non-lethal diseases.”

Sen Rand Paul

While some vaccine-preventable diseases are more deadly than others, they can all be deadly. From rotavirus and HPV to hepatitis A, these diseases can kill people.

Which vaccine-preventable disease does he think is non-lethal?

“Sometimes these vaccine mandates have run amok. As when the government mandated a rotavirus vaccine that was later recalled because it was causing intestinal blockage in children.”

Sen Rand Paul

That’s an interesting example of “the government” that has run amok…

Which “government” mandated that the original rotavirus vaccine be given to children?

As Senator Paul hopefully understands, the Federal government doesn’t mandate vaccines for anyone. And since it must be given at such a young age, even states don’t actually mandate that the rotavirus vaccine be given to children…

Even today, there are no mandates for the rotavirus vaccine.

If there were, it still wouldn’t mean giving up your Liberty, after all, vaccine mandates don’t mean forced vaccination.

“It is wrong to say that there are no risks to vaccines. Even the government admits that children are sometimes injured by vaccines. Since 1988, over $4 billion has been paid out from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Despite the government admitting to and paying $4 billion for vaccine injuries, no informed consent is used or required when you vaccinate your child. This may be the only medical procedure in today’s medical world where an informed consent is not required. “

Sen Rand Paul

No one says that there are no risks to vaccines. That’s a classic anti-vaccine talking point.

What folks actually say is that vaccines are safe, with few serious risks.

And the $4 billion that Rand Paul and anti-vaccine folks often talk about has been paid out over more than 30 years, during a time that we have given nearly 300 million doses of vaccines each and every year!

But what’s that he said about informed consent?

Why wouldn’t informed consent be given or be required before getting a vaccine?

Of course, parents get informed consent before getting vaccines.

They don’t get informed consent if they decide to skip or delay their child’s vaccines after getting bad information.

“Now proponents of mandatory government vaccination argue that parents who refuse to vaccinate their children risk spreading these diseases to the immunocompromised community. There doesn’t seem to be enough evidence of this happening for it to be recorded as a statistic, but it could happen. But if the fear of this is valid, are we to find that next we will be mandating flu vaccine?”

Sen Rand Paul

Lastly, why didn’t Sen Paul find evidence that intentionally unvaccinated kids are spreading disease to the immunocompromised community?

Maybe he didn’t look…

It happens.

Do we need it to happen more often so that it becomes a large statistic before he and others will advocate that folks get vaccinated to attend school?

Do you understand have a better understand now why anti-vaccine folks were cheering after his testimony?

“If you believe in Liberty, that’s fine, don’t get immunized. But I don’t think that you need to necessarily expose others to disease.”

Sen Bill Cassidy

It should give you a better understanding both of Rand Paul’s ideas and those of the anti-vaccine movement.

More on Rand Paul’s Testimony at the Senate Health Committee Hearing on Vaccines and Outbreaks