GOP Texas lawmaker accuses top vaccine scientist of 'sorcery'

GOP Texas lawmaker accuses top vaccine scientist of 'sorcery'

A Republican Texas state lawmaker responded to a top vaccine scientist's tweets about vaccination exemptions by accusing him of "sorcery" on Tuesday.

Peter Hotez, professor and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, tweeted a link to a report showing that Texas recorded a 14 percent rise in parents opting out of the state's vaccination requirements for children.

State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R) fired back, accusing Hotez of being bought off.

“You are bought and paid for by the biggest special interest in politics,” the Fort Worth lawmaker wrote. “Do our state a favor and mind your own business. Parental rights mean more to us than your self enriching ‘science.’ " 

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Hotez responded that he doesn't "take a dime from the vaccine industry" and that as a "Texas pediatrician-scientist" vaccine exemptions are "most certainly my business."

Stickland responded minutes later, calling Hotez's profession "sorcery."

"Make the case for your sorcery to consumers on your own dime," he tweeted. "Like every other business. Quit using the heavy hand of government to make your business profitable through mandates and immunity. It’s disgusting."

Stickland did not immediately respond to a request for comment on his interaction with Hotez.

Many states, including Texas, allow parents to opt-out of vaccinating their children for personal or philosophical reasons, while all states have medical exemption laws.

Those exceptions have come under fire during the current measles outbreak in the U.S., which experts say can be partially attributed to the anti-vaccine movement.

There have been at least 764 cases of measles reported in the country this year, more than double the total number of cases from last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The outbreak comes 19 years after measles was declared eradicated in the U.S.