Gov. Chris Christie Backs Off His Bad Medical Advice on Vaccinating Kids

The balance of risks and benefits tilts overwhelmingly toward getting your kids vaccinated.


Chris Christie

The Governor of New Jersey is touring the United Kingdom seeking to garner some foreign policy cred in advance of running in the Republican Party's presidential primaries next year. While visiting a pharmaceutical plant Christie was asked what he thought about the measles outbreak in the United States. According to the Washington Post he replied:

"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 told reporters here Monday. But the likely Republican presidential candidate added: "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."

What did Christie mean by "balance"? The Daily Beast is reporting that Christie had expressed concern back in 2009 that autism could be linked to vaccination:

While running for governor in 2009, Christie wrote a letter wherein he seemed to acknowledge a link between autism and vaccinations—a theory for which there is no scientific proof.

"I have met with families affected by autism from across the state and have been struck by their incredible grace and courage. Many of these families have expressed their concern over New Jersey's highest-in-the-nation vaccine mandates. I stand with them now, and will stand with them as their governor in their fight for greater parental involvement in vaccination decisions that affect their children."

The governor is now trying to clarify the medical advice he dispensed in Britain:

The Governor believes vaccines are an important public health protection and with a disease like measles there is no question kids should be vaccinated," Christie's office said in a statement. "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."

The plain fact is that the balance of the risks and benefits of vaccination tilts overwhelmingly just one way: Get your kid vaccinated.

But let us not forget that other politicians have shared their medical insights about the risks and benefits of vaccination with their fellow Americans:

Barack Obama (2008): "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."

John McCain (2008): "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."

Hillary Clinton (2008): Senator Hillary Clinton, in response to a questionnaire from the autism activist group A-CHAMP, wrote that she was "Committed to make investments to find the causes of autism, including possible environmental causes like vaccines." And when asked if she would support a study of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated children, she said: "Yes. We don't know what, if any, kind of link there is between vaccines and autism - but we should find out."

Rand Paul (2015): Most of them ought to be voluntary … while I think it is a good idea to take the vaccine, I think that's a personal decision for individuals to take and when to take it….

Meanwhile thanks to anti-vaccine disinformation the current outbreak has spread to 14 states and infected 102 people so far.

For more background see Reason's debate "Should Vaccines Be Mandatory?"