A candidate for the Democratic nominee in the 2020 presidential election has controversially branded the call for vaccinations to be mandatory 'Orwellian'.
During a debate in New Hampshire on Wednesday, author Marianne Williamson, who is one of the 20 Democrats hoping to be Donald Trump's opponent in 2020, launched an unusual critique on mandatory vaccinations.
She is quoted as saying:
To me, it's no different than the abortion debate. The US government doesn't tell any citizen, in my book, what they have to do with their body or child.
She is also reported to have called vaccine mandates to be 'draconian' and 'Orwellian'. Williamson's comments have caused a backlash but her comment about vaccines being 'Orwellian' is probably the one that she will be most embarrassed about.
The term, a reference to author George Orwell and his dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four,is often used to describe something that is considered to be destructive of society and opposes the free and open thinking.
Considering this term is so synonymous with the acclaimed novelist it's probably worth pointing out that Orwell died in 1950 aged just 46 after a long battle with tuberculosis, a disease which is now largely prevented by vaccines.
BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin) is the only available vaccine for tuberculosis but is the most widely used vaccine on the planet, reportedly decreasing the risk of infection by 20 per cent and the overall chances of an infection turning into a disease by 60 per cent.
The irony of Williamson's comment did not get overlooked by those on social media.
66-year-old Williamson has since tried to clarify her comments. In a statement toThe Daily Beast, she apologised and claimed that she misspoke.
Public safety must be carefully balanced with the right of individuals to make their own decisions.
I am sorry that I made comments which sounded as though I question the validity of life-saving vaccines.
That is not my feeling and I realise that I misspoke.
On Thursday she also appeared on The View where she denied that she was an anti-vaxxer and added that she was concerned about 'Big Pharma.'