Gov. Chris Christie is facing a wide range of criticism Monday for comments he made to The New York Times on the growing measles outbreak across the country and the choices of some parents to not have their children vaccinated to help prevent it.
Christie, currently on a trade mission in the United Kingdom, told The Times that to some degree, parents should be able to choose what's best for their children.
“It’s more important what you think as a parent than what you think as a public official," Christie told 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.”
Christie's comments come just a day after President Obama publicly urged Americans to get their children vaccinated, adding that the science behind vaccinations was "pretty indisputable."
Facing backlash from his comments, Christie's office quickly worked to modify the governor's stance 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," the statement from the governor's office read. "At the same time, different states require different degrees of vaccination, which is why he was calling for balance in which ones government should mandate."
Assemblyman Herb Conaway (D-Delran), a practicing physician and chair of the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee, said Christie's "wavering comments are irresponsible and endanger the health of our communities."
"Science has shown vaccination to be an extremely effective approach to securing public health. The only thing government has to balance is what’s best for the overall public health, and that means unambiguously supporting vaccinations," Conaway said. "Gov. Christie’s failure to clearly state where he stands on vaccinations that protect everyone, especially our most vulnerable, is another example of his weak leadership and his inability to stand up for what’s scientifically proven as being right."
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