Are you ‘pro-choice’ or not?: Rand Paul presses Johns Hopkins dean on COVID vaccine mandates

The Republican senator wanted to make a point about America’s COVID policies compared to the rest of the world.

On Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul wanted to know if the dean of Johns Hopkins School of Nursing was ‘pro-choice.’

‘Are you pro-choice in regards to patients making individualized medical choices?” Paul asked Dr. Sarah Szanton.

“Broadly, thank you, yes,” Szanton replied.

Paul was beginning a larger discussion to note that other nations have enjoyed more medical freedoms than most Americans have had.

“Are you aware that your university doesn’t allow choice with regard to vaccination, that you require all of your students to have three vaccines in order to be students?” Paul asked.

“Yes,” she responded.

“So it’s sort of choice, but not so much when regarding vaccination,” Paul continued.

The senator then asked if Szanton if she “aware of the increased risk of myocarditis with the COVID vaccine, particularly with successive COVID vaccinations in males between the ages of 16 and 24?”

Szanton came back with, “I’m prepared to talk about the nursing crisis, and that we have vaccine requirements across the board for.” 

Paul stopped her.

He said, “Here’s the problem, if you exclude everybody from being a nurse who believes in basic immunology, you’re gonna include a lot of smart people, people who believe that you can get immunity from both vaccination as well as infection, and if you say, ‘Well, we’re just not gonna take the people who believe in that old-fashioned infection thing providing immunity, we’re only gonna take the people who do as they’re told’ — I mean, do you think individuals should be treated the same when they come to the emergency room?” 

The senator said people often need different treatments. That one size fits all doesn’t always work. Older people should be treated differently from younger people, for example.

Paul rattled off the countries he claimed had less restrictive vaccine policies.

“In Britain, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, they don’t have university mandates on this,” Paul said. “Some countries don’t recommend it for children at all.” 

“There really is a debate and a discussion, you can have an opposite debate that if you believe in choice, when something has a debate and there’s arguments on both side, you’d give people a choice,” he added.

Rand Paul discussed more, before concluding, “This isn’t an argument against vaccinations, it’s an argument for thinking, and understanding that people of different ages could respond differently.”

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Jack Hunter
Jack Hunter
Jack Hunter is a freelance writer, the co-author of Sen. Rand Paul’s 2011 book ‘The Tea Party Goes to Washington’ and the former politics editor for