The Campaign Spot

Obama, Christie Wade Into Vaccination Debate

Former congressional candidate Jorge Bonilla quips we’ve entered the “Gardasil 2.0″ part of the GOP primary.

Chris Christie is being characterized as insufficiently pro-vaccination, although that seems like an oversimplification of his comments:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took a measured approach wading into the debate over vaccines sparked by a measles outbreak in the United States, saying that while he vaccinates his own children, parents should be able to choose.

“All I can say is that we vaccinate ours. I think it’s much more important as a parent than as a public official, and that’s what we do,” he told reporters during his trip through London on Monday. He went on to say that’s “part of making sure we protect their health and public health.”

“I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice as well. So that’s a balance the government has to decide,” Christie added.

Asked whether he was advocating leaving parents the option to not vaccinate their kids, Christie said “I didn’t say I’m leaving people the option,” but that “it depends what the vaccine is, what the disease type is and all the rest.”

“And so we have to have that conversation. [It] has to move and shift to disease type. Not every vaccine is created equal. Not every disease type is as great a public health threat as others,” Christie said.

This weekend, President Obama said, “I understand that there are families that in some cases are concerned about the effect of vaccinations. The science is, you know, pretty indisputable. We’ve looked at this again and again. There is every reason to get vaccinated, but there aren’t reasons to not.”

Opposition to vaccination remains a minority position, but younger voters are trending in that direction:

Most Americans (57 percent) support requiring all children to get vaccinated against childhood diseases, but 32 percent do think that it should be up to parents to decide whether or not their child should be vaccinated. Americans under the age of 30 (43 percent) are far more likely than other age groups to say that the decision should be left to parents. Only 26 percent of 45-64 year olds and 21 percent of over-65s think that vaccination should be at parental discretion.

The study claiming that vaccinations could lead to autism was debunked and retracted, but 21 percent of respondents ages 18 to 29 believe that vaccines cause autism.

UPDATE: Well, this is embarrassing

“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.

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