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Georgia Republican clarifies vaccination comments

One GOP lawmaker boasted that he hasn't vaccinated his children. House Republicans put him on the Science Committee.
Rep. Barry Loudermilk, Republican from Georgia, interviewed as a candidate by Roll Call, February 10, 2014.
Rep. Barry Loudermilk, Republican from Georgia, interviewed as a candidate by Roll Call, February 10, 2014.
We talked earlier about Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), who made some curious comments at a town-hall meeting last week when asked about vaccinations.

"I believe it's the parents' decision whether to immunize or not. And so I'm looking at [my] wife -- most of our children, we didn't immunize. They're healthy. Of course, home schooling, we didn't have to get the mandatory immunization."

Today, the Republican congressman decided to follow up with a statement intended to clarify his beliefs.

"My family's choices surrounding healthcare have been misinterpreted as a statement against immunization. I believe it is a parent's right and responsibility to make all healthcare choices affecting their family. The advancements of healthcare science throughout our history have saved countless lives around the world, and as a member of Congress, I fully support our scientific community."

The fact that Loudermilk followed up with a general endorsement of science is a good thing, I suppose, but the clarification doesn't entirely help.
Loudermilk doesn't want to come across as an opponent of vaccinations, but the fact remains that he didn't immunize "most" of his children -- and he apparently considers that the right move because "they're healthy."
If there's a compelling defense for this position, I can't think of it.
But it's the larger context that really rankles. The congressman made these comments publicly, which may have an influence on families in his community. Just as important, House Republicans not only put him on the House Science Committee, he's even the chairman of the Science Committee's oversight panel.
The strained relationship between Republicans and science has become increasingly difficult lately. Loudermilk isn't helping.