I am a big fan of Republican Senator (Dr.) Rand Paul concerning many of his policy ideas and the role of the federal government. I also appreciated his Dad’s political views on many topics.

Rand Paul at CPAC 2013 Image/Video Screen Shot
Rand Paul at CPAC 2013
Image/Video Screen Shot

I also applaud the Duke trained physician and ophthalmologist on his pro bono eye surgery work in Central America.

However, Dr. Paul has left me shaking me head more than once in recent months concerning statements involving infectious agent issues that have grabbed national media attention.

First in October, Paul bungled the facts on the transmissible of Ebola virus when he said in a radio interview, “This is an incredibly contagious disease. People in full gloves and gowns are getting it. So really they need to be honest — this is a very transmissible disease.”

In addition, he added, “They’re still learning about this. We’re all still learning about this. But this is not something that is hard to catch, this is something that appears to be very easy to catch.”

Of course after listening to the media, the politicians and even CDC director, Dr. Frieden either report, discuss or explain incorrectly the transmissibility of Ebola , most now understand it is not airborne and not very transmissible to the general public.

The basic reproductive rate for Ebola is around 2, meaning on average each infected person will cause an additional 2 infections in susceptible individuals.

Now measles has struck a chord with the media and the American public. This inevitably brings in the views of politicians.

In an interview on the Laura Ingraham Radio show Monday, Dr. Paul said, “I’m not anti-vaccine at all, but most of them ought to be voluntary”.

I understand this viewpoint concerning freedom of choice; however, this is a time that Dr Paul could have brought up how transmissible a virus is.

The reproductive number for measles? 18. This means on average, if you have 10 susceptible individuals exposed to a measles patient, 9 will end up getting sick. Now that is transmissible!

But what I found more concerning was Dr Paul’s statement on a CNBC interview yesterday concerning a debunked theory concerning vaccinations. “I’ve heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines”, he said as I cringed.

I understand that Senator Paul is not practicing medicine on any regular basis and he is an ophthalmologist and not an infectious disease expert; however, there is so much credible research out there that should of kept the good doctor from making a statement like that.

Related: Anti-vaccination views linked to low confidence in the government: Study

Vaccines: An interview with Dr. Paul Offit 

Young American adults, vaccines and autism: Poll results