Potential 2016 candidate Dr. Ben Carson, who has expressed support for strict vaccination policies, on Tuesday linked the measles outbreak in California to undocumented immigrants.
CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Carson if parents’ decisions not to vaccinate their children led to the outbreak.
“It is a good example of what happens,” Carson responded.
But he then suggested that the outbreak may have started with undocumented immigrants.
“These are things that we had under control. We have to account for the fact that we now have people coming into the country sometimes undocumented people who perhaps have diseases that we had under control,” he said. “So now we need to be doubly vigilant about making sure that we immunize them to keep them from getting diseases that once were under control.”
According to the World Health Organization, about 93 percent of children in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, from which a majority of undocumented children have emigrated from, have gotten a measles vaccination.
When asked how to enforce immunization in the U.S., Carson noted that many schools require certain vaccinations.
“We already have policies in place at schools that require immunization reports. A lot of people are put off when they hear the word government force. And perhaps there’s a better way to put these things,” he said, adding that the benefits of immunizing children have been proven.
Carson also offered a small defense of comments made by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who said this week that parents should have “some measure of choice” when it comes to vaccinating their children.
“Well, I listened to what he said and I think perhaps it’s not exactly being portrayed the way he meant it. You know, if you were to talk to him, I’m sure he would tell you that vaccines are very, very important and have made a tremendous difference in our society,” Carson said. “He’s simply saying we don’t want to be forced. We want to have some choice. And I think there are ways to do this in a reasonable and rational way that involves educating the populous. There were a lot of myths going around about vaccinations causing autism.”