- 2020 candidate Marianne Williamson defended her stance on vaccinations during an interview with MSNBC host Ari Melber Wednesday
- She touted unsupported claims that there were fewer cases of chronic illness when she was young and vaccination was less widespread.
- Williamson previously told supporters that mandatory vaccinations are "draconian" and "Orwellian."
- Williamson told Melber said she was "pro-vaccination, pro-medicine, and pro-science," but said she supported more discussion about pharmaceutical lobbying.
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2020 candidate Marianne Williamson responded to questions on vaccinations during an interview with MSNBC on Wednesday, touting unsupported claims that there were far fewer cases of chronic illness when fewer vaccines were taken during her childhood.
In an interview with MSNBC host Ari Melber, a day after her appearance in the first CNN Democratic debate in Detroit, Williamson addressed past controversial comments made on mandatory vaccinations. She has previously described mandatory vaccination as "draconian" and "Orwellian."
Speaking to Melber on Wednesday, Williamson claimed that when she was a child vaccines were less widespread and chronic illness was less common.
"When I was a child we took far fewer vaccines, and there was much less bungling. And there was much less chronic illness."
When asked if she thought vaccines contributed to worsening health issues now, she said that chronic illness jumped after 1986, the year when the US government approved the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, which established a national vaccine program in America.
While studies suggest that the rate of chronic disease in America has indeed increased, with the CDC estimating that six in 10 adults in the US suffer from a chronic illness, several experts have debunked claims that there is a causal relationship between vaccines and chronic illnesses.
The CDC has noted that, while some vaccines do carry risks of serious side affects, the risk is very low and only accounts for one in every 1 million doses.
They also note that due to increased vaccine use, serious and often-deadly diseases including polio, tetanus, and rubella, have been virtually eradicated in the United States.
A study published in 2003 in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics said that scientific research does not support claims that vaccines cause chronic illnesses like asthma, multiple sclerosis, chronic arthritis, and diabetes.
The study said some vaccines are "probably more likely to prevent or modify than cause or exacerbate autoimmune diseases."
A 2004 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, by Lynne Levitsky, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital also dealt with the subject.
It said that, while some vaccines pose a very small risk of adverse reaction, studies suggest the link between vaccination and autoimmune disorders has not been strong. It said that genetic, immunologic, and environmental factors may be responsible for the development of chronic disorders like diabetes.
"It is important to document that any small risk to individual vaccinees is outweighed by both the potential for benefit to each vaccinee and the potential for disease prevention in the population as a whole," she wrote.
Williamson added that vaccination was not "some big topic" for her, and that she supports more discussion about pharmaceutical lobbying.
"When you look at all the money that is spent by pharmaceutical companies … why are we so okay with the complete shutdown of any conversation about this topic?"
"On the issue of vaccinations, I’m pro-vaccination. I’m pro-medicine and pro-science," she said.
Last month, however, she told supporters in New Hampshire: "To me, it’s no different than the abortion debate. The US government doesn’t tell any citizen, in my book, what they have to do with their body or their child," according to NBC News reporter Julia Jester.
According to a recent YouGov poll, 15% of American voters find her "very favorable" or "somewhat favorable," while 27% of voters find her "somewhat unfavorable" or "very unfavorable" and 58% said they "don’t know."
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