Pat Robertson, the 84-year-old multimillionaire televangelist, declared his opposition to mandated childhood Measles vaccinations on his 700 Club TV broadcast earlier this week. Robertson added his voice to a growing chorus of public figures opposed to requiring vaccination against the serious disease which, according to the Center For Disease Control, “can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), and death,” especially in children five years old and younger.
Measles was believed to have been eliminated from the United States by 2002, thanks primarily to the prevalence of childhood vaccinations. But a growing opposition to requiring kids to receive the vaccinations has led to a resurgence of measles in the U.S., with more than 600 cases in 2014 — and over 100 already in 2015, though the year is barely more than one month old.
Measles is a highly contagious disease, meaning that an unvaccinated person who contracts the measles virus will easily spread the illness to anyone else who has not been vaccinated — including children too young to have received the vaccination.
On Thursday, five cases of measles were diagnosed in babies, all under the age of one year, at a day care center in the Chicago suburb of Palatine, Illinois. Infants of that young age are not yet eligible for the measles vaccine because their immune systems are not fully developed, meaning the vaccine will have only a temporary effect.
But Pat Robertson on Tuesday appeared nostalgic for the days of his own childhood when children often contracted measles and mumps — another once-common childhood disease now largely eliminated due to vaccination — and simply endured them.
“You know, when I was a kid, we all got measles, we got mumps,” Robertson recalled. “You just got immune. But what you had to do was stay in a dark room. You couldn’t read for a week or two. That was the thing.”
Oddly, Robertson said that in his opinion, the measles vaccine has indeed proven effective, but “we should be very careful not to force people to do stuff that they earnestly feel they shouldn’t do.”
Robertson joined such national political figures as Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in calling for “choice” in whether parents vaccinate their kids or not.
The televangelist also compared vaccination mandates to flouridation of water.
“What does fluoride do to people? We don’t know some of the consequences. And that’s all I’m saying, we don’t have all the knowledge we need,” he concluded. See video of Pat Robertson offering his opinion on the measles vaccination debate in the video above.