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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Pols and Vaccines

Gov. Chris Christie’s trade mission to London was suddenly overshadowed on Monday after he was quoted as saying that parents “need to have some measure of choice” about vaccinating their children against measles. The New Jersey governor, who is trying to establish his credibility among conservatives as he weighs a run for the Republican nomination in 2016, later tried to temper his response. His office released a statement clarifying that “with a disease like measles there is no question kids should be vaccinated.”
 Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, a physician, was less equivocal, telling the conservative radio host Laura Ingraham on Monday that parents should absolutely have a say in whether to vaccinate their children for measles.
“While I think it’s a good idea to take the vaccine, I think that’s a personal decision for individuals,” he said, recalling his irritation at doctors who tried to press him to vaccinate his own children. He eventually did, he said, but spaced out the vaccinations over a period of time.
Asked about immunizations again later on Monday, Mr. Paul was even more insistent, saying it was a question of “freedom.” He grew irritated with a CNBC host who pressed him and snapped: “The state doesn’t own your children. Parents own the children.”
Nia-Malika Henderson reports at The Washington Post:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) both said Monday that they favor "choice" when it comes to whether parents get their kids vaccinated. This was seen by the Democratic National Committee as "kowtowing to the fringe rhetoric of the anti-vaccination movement."
"Chris Christie isn't a scientist. He isn't a doctor. And he sure as heck isn't a leader," DNC spokesman Mo Elleithee said. "If his campaign is going to be about kissing up to the radical, conspiracy theory base that’s wagging the dog of today’s Republican Party, that’s up to him and his cracker-jack team."
Here are some Democratic figures who might want to have a word with the DNC:

Andrew Kaczynski reports at Buzzfeed:
For more than two decades, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul was a member of a group, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, that advocated a link between vaccinations and autism, among other conspiracy theories.
The AAPS, as Kentucky’s Courier-Journal noted in a 2010 article on Paul’s association with it, opposes mandatory vaccinations and promoted discredited studies, which linked the vaccine-component thimerosal to autism in children.
“Mandatory vaccines violate the medical ethic of informed consent. A case could also be made that mandates for vaccines by school districts and legislatures is the de facto practice of medicine without a license,” the group said in a fact-check.
Paul’s adviser, Doug Stafford, told BuzzFeed News he didn’t know if Paul was still a member of the group but that he joined because it was a group of pro-life doctors. He said Paul does not endorse all the group’s views.
Jane Orient, who handles media for AAPS, said she did not believe Paul had renewed his membership.