Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Monday said that most vaccinations ought to be voluntary, a stance that goes beyond his old rival New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) view on parental choice in immunizations.
Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham asked Paul whether vaccines should be mandatory after Christie’s office tried to walk back the governor’s remarks on allowing parents to have “some measure of choice” in vaccinating their children. Paul went a step further than his potential 2016 presidential opponent in his response.
“I’m not anti-vaccine at all, but particularly, most of them ought to be voluntary,” Paul said. “What happens if you have somebody not want to take the smallpox vaccine and it ruins it for everybody else? I think there are times in which there can be some rules, but for the most part it ought to be voluntary.”
The Kentucky senator then brought up the failed 2011 push by another potential 2016 rival, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), to require sixth-grade girls be vaccinated with Gardasil, which protects against HPV, as an example of an unnecessary mandate.
“While I think it’s a good idea to take the vaccine, I think that’s a personal decision for individuals to take and when they take it,” he said.
Paul said he staggered his own children’s vaccinations over time because he didn’t think they needed, for example, a hepatitis B immunization as newborns.
As TPM previously reported, Paul was a member of a group of right-wing doctors called the Association Of American Physicians and Surgeons that promoted a number of debunked or conspiratorial medical theories. The AAPS opposes mandatory vaccines and has published at least one study that shows “alarming evidence” for a link between certain vaccines and autism.
Doug Stafford, a Paul adviser, told BuzzFeed on Monday that he didn’t know if Paul was still a member of the group. He added that Paul does not endorse all the group’s views.