New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who’s over in Europe burnishing his foreign policy credentials and promoting trade with New Jersey, just injected the vaccination issue into his likely 2016 presidential campaign.
He was responding to President Obama’s interview on NBC yesterday. Obama said the evidence of the effectiveness of the vaccine for measles is “pretty indisputable.”
About 100 cases of measles have been reported, mostly in California, where laws give parents substantial rights in opting out of vaccines.
Responding to a question from reporters this morning, Christie broke with the presidential health advice.
I asked Gov. Christie if Americans should vaccinate their kids. He says his kids are — but says approach should be "balanced"
— Kasie Hunt (@kasie) February 2, 2015
“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.”
There is, of course, no such thing as balance on the issue. You either get your kid vaccinated. Or you don’t.
Christie’s accommodation comes the same day that the Washington Post Morning Mix reprised the late author Ronald Dahl’s story of the death of his daughter from measles.
Olivia, my eldest daughter, caught measles when she was seven years old. As the illness took its usual course I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it. Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe-cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn’t do anything.
“Are you feeling all right?” I asked her.
“I feel all sleepy,” she said.
In an hour, she was unconscious. In twelve hours she was dead.
The measles had turned into a terrible thing called measles encephalitis and there was nothing the doctors could do to save her. That was twenty-four years ago in 1962, but even now, if a child with measles happens to develop the same deadly reaction from measles as Olivia did, there would still be nothing the doctors could do to help her.
On the other hand, there is today something that parents can do to make sure that this sort of tragedy does not happen to a child of theirs. They can insist that their child is immunised against measles. I was unable to do that for Olivia in 1962 because in those days a reliable measles vaccine had not been discovered. Today a good and safe vaccine is available to every family and all you have to do is to ask your doctor to administer it.”
Meanwhile, University of Minnesota officials are contacting hundreds of people who may have come in contact with a student diagnosed with measles.
— pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) February 2, 2015
Update 11 a.m. – Christie’s office has distributed this statement:
“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.”