Trump Makes Bizarre Threat About Schools And Vaccine Mandates

Donald Trump vowed at a rally Tuesday that if reelected, he’ll cut funding to every school with a vaccine mandate ― even though all 50 states have such laws on the books.

“I will not give one penny to any school that has a vaccine mandate or a mask mandate,” he declared at his rally in Racine, Wisconsin. The crowd went wild.

It’s a promise he’s made several times in recent months, repeating the same line verbatim at rallies in March and May.

If he followed through on that, no school in the United States would receive federal funding. All 50 states and Washington, D.C., have laws requiring specific vaccines for students, including measles, rubella, chickenpox, tetanus, pertussis and polio. Exemptions to the rule vary by state, with California, New York and a handful of other states maintaining the strictest mandates.

Public health experts credit those vaccine requirements with eradicating diseases that once killed thousands of people a year. Polio, a disease that infected, paralyzed or killed nearly 60,000 American children in 1952 alone, has been completely wiped out in the U.S. thanks to mass vaccination programs.

Donald Trump declared at his Wisconsin rally that he "will not give one penny to any school that has a vaccine mandate or a mask mandate."
Donald Trump declared at his Wisconsin rally that he “will not give one penny to any school that has a vaccine mandate or a mask mandate.”

JIM WATSON via Getty Images

Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to questions about which vaccines he was referring to. Months earlier, his spokespeople said he was only referring to schools’ COVID-19 vaccine mandates. But he’s declined to make that distinction during his speeches, including at Tuesday’s rally ― a decision that panders to his party’s anti-vaccine crowd.

A growing faction of conservatives have begun questioning the safety of vaccines in recent years, despite the intense scientific scrutiny they undergo before the public receives them, and a dearth of evidence that they have any lasting adverse side-effects. A Politico/Morning Consult poll found last year that while vaccine skepticism was about equal among both Democrats and Republicans before 2020, more than half of Republicans now say they care more about the potential health risks of vaccines than the benefits.

Though he once took credit for the development of COVID-19 vaccines, Trump has since scaled back his endorsement of them and vaccines in general. Last month, he even attacked independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., one of the most prominent voices in the anti-vaccine movement, as not being anti-vaccine enough.

“Republicans, get it out of your mind that you’re going to vote for this guy because he’s conservative. He’s not. And by the way, he said the other night that vaccines are fine,” Trump said in a video posted to social media. “He said it on a show, a television show, that vaccines are fine. He’s all for them. And that’s what he said. And for those of you that want to vote because you think he’s an anti-vaxxer, he’s not really an anti-vaxxer.”

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