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Mayor Pete Fumbles Badly on Vaccinations, Says Exemptions Should Be Allowed Only Where Vaccines Are Working

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke are the only two 2020 Democratic presidential candidates who blew easy questions on vaccinations, with Buttigieg saying exemptions should be allowed if there’s “no public health crisis,” and O’Rourke admitting he doesn’t know enough to answer.

On Tuesday, Buzzfeed published a report documenting all of the 2020 candidates’ responses to a set of questions about vaccines, and of the candidates who responded, Buttigieg was the only one to say he supported exemptions other than medical ones:

“The law of the land for more than a century has been that states may enforce mandatory vaccination for public safety to prevent the spread of a dangerous disease. Pete does support some exceptions, except during a public health emergency to prevent an outbreak,” a spokesperson for the South Bend, Indiana, mayor told BuzzFeed News.

In particular, Buttigieg believes exemptions are appropriate for people who can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons. Personal belief and religious exemptions should only be allowed in states that aren’t facing a public health crisis and where herd immunity rates of vaccination are maintained.

“These exemptions include medical exemptions in all cases (as in cases where it is unsafe for the individual to get vaccinated), and personal/religious exemptions if states can maintain local herd immunity and there is no public health crisis,” the spokesperson said.

But failure to vaccinate is what causes public health crises like the current measles crisis, and weakens the “herd immunity” that protects children from such diseases.

Every other candidate who responded supported vaccinations, with rare medical exemptions.

O’Rourke did not respond to Buzzfeed, but the outlet cited a video shot during the congressman’s Senate campaign by an anti-vaccine group, in which he said “I know just about as much as any parent. All three of my kids are vaccinated. I know that this is an issue that some people have a difference of opinion on. I’m not as informed as I should be to give you a thoughtful answer.”

Donald Trump has a history of spreading lies about vaccines, but when asked about the measles crisis last week, said “They have to get the shots. The vaccinations are so important.”

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