While commenting on the ongoing measles outbreak in the US, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ran into some friction with President Obama, stating that there must be a “balance” from the government between parental choice and views on vaccines and public health interests. Christie stressed that parents and families must have a “measure of choice” on the issue of childhood vaccinations – something I think a lot of us can agree with.
This is goes against the president’s recent statments, who in an interview with NBC said clearly: “You should get your kids vaccinated.” Though interestingly, Christie’s statements go hand-in-hand with how Obama reportedly felt back in 2008, (which doesn’t seem to reflect his public position on vaccines at this time):
“We’ve seen just a skyrocketing autism rate. Some people are suspicious that it’s connected to the vaccines. This person included. The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it.”
–Barack Obama, Pennsylvania Rally, April 21, 2008.
John McCain said something similar:
“It’s indisputable that (autism) is on the rise among children, the question is what’s causing it. And we go back and forth and there’s strong evidence that indicates it’s got to do with a preservative in vaccines.”
–John McCain, Texas town hall meeting, February 29, 2008.
Chris Christie said:
“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, according to the Washington Post.“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.”
“There has to be a balance and it depends on what the vaccine is, what the disease type is, and all the res. Not every vaccine is created equal and not every disease type is as great a public health threat as others.”
President Obama sings a different song now, stating that the science is indisputable, and that there is every reason to get vaccinated – but not many reasons not to.
Christie’s office issued a statement to clarify the comments, saying, “The Governor believes vaccines are an important public health protection and with a disease like measles there is no question kids should be vaccinated.”
Commenting in a radio interview with Laura Ingraham, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said that most vaccinations “ought to be voluntary.”
“I’m not anti-vaccine at all, but particularly, most of them ought to be voluntary,” Paul said. “What happens if you have somebody not wanting to take the small pox vaccine and it ruins it for everybody else? I think there are times in which there can be some rules but for the most part, it ought to be voluntary.”
He also revealed he delayed some of his children’s vaccines when they were born.
“I was annoyed when my kids were born that they wanted them to take hepatitis B in the neo natal nursery and it’s like that’s a sexually transmitted disease or blood borne disease,” Paul said. “I didn’t like them getting 10 vaccines at once, so I actually delayed my kids vaccines and had them staggered over time.”
While many individuals recognize the potential downfalls of vaccines, most Americans do in fact vaccinate and support vaccinations. But public ‘kerfuffles’ like this could have a measurable impact on that. With the incredible allegiance to faux political parties in the US, we constantly see individuals divide up on numerous issues based on information that supports political and religious identities and belief systems.
“Vaccine risks are neither a matter of concern for the vast majority of the public nor an issue of contention among recognizable demographic, political, or cultural subgroups,” writes Yale’s Dan Kahan, who researched the topic through a nationally representative survey.
The question being asked is: will the vaccination issue become framed around issues of individual choice and freedom vs. government mandates to such a degree that individuals will align views based on their political party?