New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) office did some damage control on Monday after Christie said the government should strike a “balance” between requiring parents to immunize their children and allowing them “some measure of choice” on vaccinations.
“To be clear: The Governor believes vaccines are an important public health protection and with a disease like measles there is no question kids should be vaccinated,” Christie’s office said in a statement. “At the same time, different states require different degrees of vaccination, which is why he was calling for balance in which one’s government should mandate.”
The comments came as health officials try to contain a measles outbreak in the western United States that is believed to have started at California’s Disneyland park.
Christie’s office furnished a full transcript of the governor’s remarks at the London facility of American company MedImmune, which manufactures a flu vaccine, that went beyond his remarks reported by the New York Times.
“It’s more important what you think as a parent than what you think as a public official,” Christie said, as quoted by the Times. “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.”
The newspaper reported that the governor added “not every vaccine is created equal, and not every disease type is as great a public health threat as others.”
According to the transcript released by his office, Christie was also asked whether he was leaving people the option not to get vaccinated.
“Michael, what I said was that there has to be a balance and it depends on what the vaccine is, what the disease type is and all the rest,” Christie said. “And so I didn’t say I’m leaving people the option. What I’m saying is that you have to have that balance in considering parental concerns because no parent cares about anything more than they care about protecting their own child’s health and so we have to have that conversation, but that has to move and shift in my view from disease type. Not every vaccine is created equal and not every disease type is as great a public health threat as others. So that’s what I mean by that so that I’m not misunderstood.”
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at email@example.com.