Speaking in England on Monday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said that vaccines are important, but he believes that parents should have the choice whether or not to vaccinate their children.
"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 The Washington Post (The Post) and other media outlets in Cambridge on Monday. "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."
Christie made his remarks after touring a laboratory at MedImmune, a biologics company that manufactures vaccines in Cambridge. The governor was asked to share his thoughts on the measles outbreak sweeping the United States, according to The Post.
On Sunday, President Barack Obama told NBC News anchor Savannah Guthrie that parents should get their kids vaccinated, but he understands that some parents are concerned the inoculations should be dangerous to their children’s health, according to The Post.
"I understand that there are families that, in some cases, are concerned about the effect of vaccinations," Obama said. "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."
Christie called for a "balance" that is dependent on "what the vaccine is, what the disease type is, and all the rest." He added, "Not every vaccine is created equal and not every disease type is as great a public health threat as others."
The federal government vehemently denies that vaccines cause autism, and a 2004 study linking vaccines to autism has been debunked as being fraudulent, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t data to support parents’ fears. It was revealed last summer that a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) whistleblower had come forward to help Dr. Brian Hooker of the Focus Autism Foundation uncover data linking a higher incidence of autism in African-American boys who received the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine earlier than 36 months of age.
The DeStefano et al. study, which was never released by the CDC, used data for 2,583 children born between 1986 and 1991 living in Atlanta, Georgia. The researchers excluded children who did not have a Georgia birth certificate, which reduced the study’s sample size by 41 percent. According to Hooker, the reduced cohort size eliminated what would have been a greater statistical finding. He also said he could think of no scientific basis for excluding children born outside of Georgia. Hooker said in his report, published in the journal Translational Neurodegeneration, that the CDC is "not doing what they should be doing" because they are "afraid" to look at the possible associations.