Oklahoma Gubernatorial Candidate Opposes Mandatory Vaccines
Oklahoma’s Republican nominee for governor is against mandatory vaccines. In a speech earlier this year, Kevin Stitt, a successful entrepreneur from Tulsa, said that he did not vaccinate his children and believes that mandatory vaccination is a symptom of government overreach.
Stitt opposes any legislation that would mandate vaccines for children attending Oklahoma’s public school system.
“I believe in choice,” Stitt said, “And we’ve got six children and we don’t vaccinate, we don’t do vaccinations on all of our children. So we definitely pick and choose which ones we’re gonna do. It’s gotta be up to the parents, we can never mandate that. I think there’s legislation right now that are trying to mandate that to go to public schools, it’s absolutely wrong. My wife was home schooled, I went to public schools, our kids go to Christian school, and that’s back to a parent’s choice.”
Stitt’s stance on vaccines causes many vaccine proponents concerned. Stitt joins a number of other politicians who have expressed skepticism over mandatory vaccine laws and vaccine safety, including President Donald Trump.
“Kevin believes the topic of vaccinations is a serious decision that should be made by parents in consultation with their pediatricians,” said Donelle Harder, Stitt’s spokeswoman.
Kevin Stitt’s Vaccine Stances Have Some Afraid
In reality, there isn’t a lot on the line with Oklahoma’s mandatory vaccination laws. Although the state does mandate a series of CDC recommended vaccines for children attending public schools, parents are legally entitled to religious and personal exemptions.
Harder claims that Stitt isn’t interested in making any dramatic changes to current Oklahoma law in concern with vaccines. However, Oklahoma lawmakers have moved to decrease the number of vaccine exemptions in the state. With Stitt as governor, such a law would have a difficult time passing.
Sen. Ervin Yen, R-Oklahoma City, wants vaccine exemption policies tightened up. Yen believes that only “true medical issues” should be given exemptions. This would fly directly counter to Stitt’s stance on government overreach. Yen’s bill never made it to the Senate floor.
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Yen contends he isn’t attempting to embolden government reach, he’s just trying to “keep the public safe.” Yen has not ruled out a showdown with Stitt over the issue if Stitt were to take the helm.
“In my opinion,” Yen said, “he is absolutely wrong. If you have a child who is immunocompromised and can’t be vaccinated you want the other kids around your child to be vaccinated so he or she doesn’t get one of these contagious diseases that they can die from.”
Kevin Stitt Polls Show Toss Up
Two polls show Democrat Drew Edmondson ahead of Stitt by a hair. However, if the Trump 2016 campaign taught us anything, its that political polls are severely unreliable.
A Sooner poll from May had Edmondson up by 7 points, that gap closed to a single point in the more recent July poll. Both of these polls were taken prior to President Trump’s endorsement of Stitt in late August.
“Kevin Stitt ran a great winning campaign against a very tough opponent in Oklahoma,” Trump tweeted.
“Kevin is a very successful businessman who will be a fantastic Governor,” Trump wrote. “He is strong on Crime & Borders, the 2nd Amendment, & loves our Military & Vets. He has my complete and total Endorsement!”
Trump’s endorsements have proven valuable over the past few years in the political space.
Additionally, Oklahoma’s anti-vaccine movement is growing and it is likely that Stitt could turn Democratic and swing voters his way. Oklahoma’s philosophical exemptions have risen since 2009, an indication that the movement is growing even in the face of harsh medical community pushback.
Author: Jim Satney
PrepForThat’s Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.