Color me surprised. I thought that if any of the candidates came out in defense of the modern anti-vaccine movement it would likely be the libertarianish Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). However, it was Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) who came out in defense of parents who might want to avoid vaccinating their children. This move will paint him in stark contrast to most of the other candidates, for example just a few years ago Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) was FORCING girls in Texas to take the HPV vaccine. While Perry now says that forcing the vaccinations was a “mistake,” it wasn’t the only medical procedure that his administration mandated in Texas.
Expect the questions about vaccinations to continue popping up all along the campaign trail – it’s an issue facing millions of parents everyday and there are a lot of parents who are concerned about over/under vaccinating.
I am again surprised that I find myself agreeing (and appreciating) Governor Christie’s balance on this issue. While mandating certain vaccinations may be medically necessary, it is vitally important that those leading our government be VERY careful about how much “mandating” they do. They lead us, they don’t rule us.
“It’s more important what you think as a parent than what you think as a public official,” Christie told reporters immediately after touring a vaccine laboratory, reported The New York Times. “I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well. So that’s the balance that the government has to decide.”
Parents who refuse to vaccinate their children — often because they fear vaccines are linked to other dangers, such as autism — are being blamed for the outbreak. President Obama said he understands parents’ concerns, but urged every parent to vaccinate their child Sunday, because the science is “pretty indisputable.”
Although measles was declared eliminated in 2000, the Centers for Disease Control has confirmed at least 100 measles cases across the country this year, reported Fox News. Most of them are linked to an outbreak that began at Disneyland in December.
“Mary Pat and I have had our children vaccinated and we think that it’s an important part of being sure we protect their health and the public health,” Christie said Monday, but he made it clear the choice should be up to parents.
Christie said he believes it’s an important part of public health, but that “not every vaccine is created equal, and not every disease type is as great a public health threat as others.”
The press immediately seized on his comments, so his office issued a clarifying statement Monday: “The Governor believes vaccines are an important public health protection and with a disease like measles there is no question kids should be vaccinated. At the same time different states require different degrees of vaccination, which is why he was calling for balance in which ones government should mandate.”
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