Last month, Donald Trump brought his anti-vaccine conspiracy theories to the Republican presidential debate, where he persuaded Dr. Ben Carson to agree with his anti-vaccine pseudo-science. While Trump’s comments caused angst in the scientific community, they appealed to a growing segment of the GOP electorate who believe vaccinations should be optional.
But Trump may want to learn from the experience of one of the pastors who recently joined him at Trump Tower, televangelist and faith healer Kenneth Copeland.
In what was obviously just a coincidence, one of Copeland’s churches was the site of a measles outbreak in 2013:
Measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. more than a decade ago. But in recent years, the highly infectious disease has cropped up in communities with low vaccination rates, most recently in North Texas.
There, 21 people — the majority of whom have not been immunized — have gotten the disease, which began at a vaccine-skeptical megachurch.
Most of the Eagle Mountain parishioners — and all of the children — who came down with measles had never been vaccinated.
Dr. Jason Terk, an infectious disease specialist in North Texas, says such communities can spread a disease quickly.
"This is a good example, unfortunately, of how birds of a feather flock together," Terk says. "If you have individuals who are vaccine-hesitant or vaccine-hostile, they congregate together, and that creates its own unique situation where a population of individuals is susceptible to getting the very disease that they decided they don't want to protect themselves from."
But something tells us that Trump’s meeting with Copeland may not prompt him to reflect on the disastrous consequences of Copeland’s anti-vaxxer preaching.