Philip Rucker reports at The Washington Post:
The morning after President Obama urged all parents to get their kids vaccinated against measles, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie broke with the president and said the government must “balance” public health interests with parental choice.
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.”
Christie’s comments came after a laboratory tour at MedImmune, a biologics company that makes vaccines in Cambridge. Christie is on a three-day tour of Britain designed to promote trade with New Jersey businesses and round out his foreign policy resume ahead of a likely 2016 run for the White House.Christie has been courting the anti-vaccine movement for a long time. The issue is hot in New Jersey, which has an unusually high rate of reported autism prevalence. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) have been leaders on the issue in Congress.
In an unprecedented and historic move, Chris Christie put pen to paper last week and made an official campaign promise to citizens of New Jersey in support of vaccination choice. He further cemented his position on live radio with Don Imus, by becoming the first gubernatorial candidate to utter the words vaccines, autism and parental choice in the same sentence. Vaccine choice supporters showed up in record numbers tonight to cast their vote for Christie.
"Tonight, vaccine choice advocates in New Jersey are proud to announce that vaccination choice is officially a voting block," says Life Health Choices Founder, Louise Kuo Habakus, who met with campaign leaders last December and kept the lines of communication open. "This election is a wake-up call to politicians nationwide. Vaccine choice belongs in the parents' house, not the Statehouse or the White House."
After receipt of the official Christie campaign promise on Friday, vaccination choice and autism advocates mobilized in force on the internet. They alerted tens of thousands of supporters, who in turn took to Facebook, Twitter, and their own support group networks to reach hundreds of thousands more. News of Christie's now famous statement spread like wildfire through the state and across the country:
"I stand by them now, and will stand with them as their governor in their fight for greater parental involvement in vaccination decisions that affect their children... Ending waste in government in order to improve care and services for these unique children and adults, as well as giving parents the choice they deserve in their children's health care decisions, will be top priorities."