Lt. Gov. Zuckerman raises mandatory vaccination issue during debate

The controversies surrounding state-mandated vaccination were reignited again Thursday during a debate when Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman and challenger Republican Don Turner disagreed over letting parents have a say in their children’s health care.

In the debate, held at Highland Center for the Arts in Greensboro, Turner reiterated his vote to eliminate the philosophical exemption for vaccinations three years ago.

Vermont Office of the Lieutenant Governor

Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman

Zuckerman, on the other hand, urged caution and parental control in the use of vaccines while affirming their benefits.

“It’s a question of whether or not government should be forcing people to accept vaccinations, especially when there’s another 250 to 300 in the pipeline from the pharmaceutical industry — the same industry that has brought us many other drugs that we have learned later, they claimed were not harmful but they’ve made themselves a lot of money and they have given us things like the opiate addiction and others,” he said.

The lieutenant governor found a middle ground between paternalistic, mandatory-vaccine officials and never-vaxxers, the vocal community of parents and others who deeply distrust the use of vaccines on their children.

“So the science behind vaccines is sound, I think vaccines do good for our communities, my daughter is vaccinated,” Zuckerman said. “But it’s a question of whether government should be forcing that onto individuals, which is different than a scientific question.”

He went on to say that the Infectious Disease Control Board of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has conflicts of interest in its connections with the pharmaceutical industry.

“And so yes, like many, I do sometimes question when government agencies are a bit too infused with corporate influence with respect to some of the outcomes and decisions they make.”

After the debate, Turner issued a press release affirming his view on the state imposing vaccines on Vermonters without their consent.

“In 2015, I was proud to vote for H.95, which eliminated the philosophical exemption for vaccines with tri-partisan support,” Turner wrote. “Ensuring Vermont’s children are healthy and safe is an essential function of state government.”

He added that “mitigating the risk to public health by requiring standard immunizations is so crucial,” and characterized Zuckerman as having disputed “the science of whether vaccines are safe.”

In Vermont, parents are not allowed to exempt their children from vaccines unless they file a religious exemption form. Prior to 2015, parents could exempt a child by voicing philosophical opposition to their use.

Turner challenged the notion that the Center for Disease Control is overly influenced by the pharmaceutical industry.

“If Lieutenant Governor Zuckerman has any demonstrable proof that the CDC’s decisions or actions are influenced by the pharmaceutical industry, he should disclose that evidence,” he said.

While the CDC maintains that serious vaccine reactions are rare, they admit they do occur, and are documented via the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Vaccine Adverse Effects Reactions System (VAERS). Since that program went into effect in 1988, over $3.5 billion has been paid out to families for reactions to vaccines.

More recent VAERS data indicates that for the first eight months of the VAERS 2017 fiscal year, $142 million had been paid out for damages. VAERS was first set up as part of the National Childhood Injury Act of 1986, which also shielded vaccine manufacturers from vaccine injury lawsuits.

The exchange quickly sparked anti-Zuckerman responses on Twitter.

The Vermont College GOP accused the lieutenant governor of being “anti-science.”

In 2016, the Vermont Health Department abandoned the nasal spray flu vaccine FluMist after the vaccine proved to be 3 percent effective, or less, starting with the 2013-2014 flu season. The department wasted more than $600,000 on doses over a three-year period.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Images courtesy of Public domain and Vermont Office of the Lieutenant Governor

10 thoughts on “Lt. Gov. Zuckerman raises mandatory vaccination issue during debate

  1. Such a sad turn of events, once again the result of fear and “fake news”. Throughout history, up until the 19th century, millions upon millions died after contracting certain contagious infectious diseases, whether bacterial or viral in origin. There were no cures nor effective treatments and no protective natural immunity. Children and adults alike just died! Only the fortunate few who survived infection would develop immunity. That was until Jenner recognized a connection between those exposed to cowpox and their reduced risk of dying from smallpox (vaccinia). He developed a technique to immunize people by introducing into their bodies a protein that was similar enough to the lethal disease, yet dissimilar enough so as not to kill them. He had vaccinated people against smallpox saving millions of lives and launching the science of immunization. Offered immunization to prevent these historical killers: rabies, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, measles, German measles, Pneumococcal pneumonia, Meningococcal meningitis, cholera, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Hepatitis B, influenza and others, people would give “anything” to prevent the loss, the suffering, the devastation of families, towns, even cities. But mass immunization has only been widely practiced in the US for fewer than 70 years. It’s been so successful, such a blessing, that today people have no perspective on what life was like without vaccinations. That lack of perspective leaves some to insist on exerting their “right” to refuse. However, when considering public health risks those rights are handled differently. The public neither has the perspective nor the medical knowledge to make decisions which if made in error today, with our ability to fly cross country, even internationally, can wipe out society. In some cases, public health concerns do trump individual “rights”.

    This piece opens speaking of fear and fake news. Prior to 1998 resistance towards vaccination was rare as were reported serious complications. Vaccination rates were high. Then a British physician, Andrew Wakefield, published a small study in the Lancet and then the British Medical Journal purportedly connecting the MMR vaccine with autism and changes in the intestine. American celebrity Jenny McCarthy, who has an autistic child, jumped on board and an anti MMR movement took off. That quickly morphed into an anti vaccine movement which grew a life of its own. The problem was that Wakefield was found to be a fraud, his faked articles retracted by both the Lancet and BMJ, and his license to practice medicine in the UK pulled. Worse, Wakefield wasn’t against vaccines. It was about money for him. The MMR vaccine was competition. He was secretly launching his own measles vaccine!
    The tragedy of his duplicity has been a reduction of vaccination in a global scale and a regrowth of illnesses formerly nearly eradicated or under control.

    What the anti vaccine crowd would have you believe is that vaccination is dangerous and unnecessary. Neither is true, though there are rare cases of serious post vaccine complications. Further, people do not have natural immunity to these illnesses without having been infected first. No supplement, vitamin, nor food offers immunity. They can only help to promote health. However, without immunity the healthy person falls to these illnesses. Once an un-immunized person, even an otherwise healthy person, contracts one of these diseases all bets are off. The risk reward equation to the individual is hands down overwhelmingly in favor of vaccination. The same applies to communities, where “herd immunity” protects those whose immune response is suboptimal or who may be allergic to a vaccine component.

    David Zuckerman used to stand strong in favor of public health vaccination policies protecting Vermonters against science deniers who endanger the health of all due to ignorance and fear. I hope he recaptures the courage of his convictions.

  2. With all the people coming into the USA from every country in the universe with some still having massive outbreaks of diseases that have since been eradicated in the US we should be cautious.

    If you are sending your children to a public school and vaccinations are required and you don’t agree then homeschool your kids … your choice.

  3. I had mumps, measles, chicken pox, etc. as a kid, and so did everybody else, and serious complications were very rare. God gave us those mild illnesses to spark our immune systems. Serious researchers can look into the history of the polio vaccine, and learn about how it was contaminated with SV40 virus, potentially causing millions of cancers. You could say it’s a risk either way, but forcing needles into the unwilling based on sketchy science and denial of Nature or God, is the utmost tyranny.

  4. The best website for vaccinations is They give you information for you to make an informed decision. The flu vaccine is and has been ineffective and personally, I don’t take them. Another questionable vaccine is whooping cough. It has been proven that those that get it actually help spread the disease. Build up your immune system by taking Vit. D-3 and other supplements.

  5. Zuckerman is such a hypocrite, he does all he can to force Vt children to attend the one size fits all public school monopoly (even if it harms children) and then he has the audacity to claim he cares about individual liberty. I guess he must like the promised votes and campaign cash from the teachers union. Blind to his own hypocrisy.

  6. Good for Zuckerman! I might even vote for him now. Turner’s naiveté about the pharmaceutical industry is a serious problem.

  7. I respectfully disagree. Vaccinations protect infants from contagious life-threatening/ fatal diseases. The purpose of mandating it for all is to build herd immunity, which protects kids who are too young or cannot get vaccinated like cancer patients and those with immune system problems.

    The only valid exception to individual liberty is the “harm principle,” defined as: “The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.”

    If parents refuse to vaccinate their children and keeps at home removed from everyone else, that’s a different matter. But if you want to expose your child to measles, mumps, pertussis or various other vaccine-preventable diseases, and then let your child infect others at pre-school or kindergarten, then you are deliberately hurting others.

    Before anyone decides to share an anecdote about someone who wasn’t vaccinated, didn’t get fall ill, and didn’t infect anyone, please remember that such an extremely rare exception does not change the rule. The rule being — if you are not vaccinated, you are at risk of falling ill and infecting others. For e.g, kids who aren’t vaccinated are 35 times more likely to get measles – a highly contagious disease.

    • One question always perplexes my mind on your argument. If my child is not vaccinated and all the others are how is that a danger to others? Logic, not emotion tells me all the others are then safe from that infectious disease that has been eradicated years ago.

  8. It’s a liberty question. These guys are supposed to be defending our liberties from the government, via the constitution. Perhaps they are both brainwashed and believe we are a Democracy, which our founding fathers wanted to avoid like the plague it is. Mob rule…..majority rules, the individual is no longer protected by the constitution in a democracy. We are a constitutional republic and that is what has made us such a great and different country.

    So this will also play into every other facet of medicine, you won’t be able to choose what course of treatment you and your doctor (not corporation, insurance conglomerate, state, etc). Because the “majority” of whom ever we are discussing has decided what’s best for you. They’ll probably also decide what your best payment it too.

    In a way this is like eugenics light in medicine. With Freedom, we should, at the very least control what goes into your body; without exception. In no way shape or form should be denied this freedom.

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