Indecisive Chris Christie suggests it’s ok not to vaccinate kids

In a show of indecisiveness that’s starting to define the likely presidential campaign of the New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie suggested last night that it’s okay for parents not to vaccinate their kids.

Christie’s apparent pandering to anti-vaccinating extremists comes in the midst of a nationwide measles outbreak attributed to anti-vaccination parents.

While traveling in England yesterday, Christie said that he thought the government should show “balance” between getting kids vaccinated against deadly diseases and parental choice.

Meaning, it’s okay if parents choose not to vaccinate their kids, and thus put the rest of us, and our kids, at risk.

Christie’s anti-vaccine comments were a clear riposte to President Obama’s earlier comments urging parents to vaccinate their children, especially against measles.

NJ Gov. Chris Christie.

NJ Gov. Chris Christie.

Two years ago, Christie showed a similar ambivalence towards science when legislation crossed his desk that would have banned quack doctors from trying to “cure” gays. In a statement reminiscent of Christie’s now-confused stance on vaccines, the GOP presidential hopeful said that though he believed gays can’t change, he was willing to let discredited doctors try to cure them anyway.

After a public outcry, Christie changed his mind and signed the legislation.

And true to form, facing criticism of his apparent support for vaccine “truthers,” Gov. Christie has issued a new statement in which he now supports the measles vaccine, but expresses uncertainty about other vaccinations for children.

A child with whooping cough.

A child with whooping cough.

Someone needs to have a word with the governor about whooping cough, among other quite serious childhood ailments.

America has a serious and growing problem with old already-beaten diseases like whooping cough and measles coming back due to cultish anti-vaccine parents refusing to get their kids immunized. Those parents think, incorrectly, that vaccines cause autism. Their unvaccinated Typhoid-Mary-esque kids then go to schools, and playground, and movie theaters and get our kids sick.

And for those who think measles is no big deal. My friend Fritz Liess explains what actually happens when you get measles as a kid:

I almost died from the measles in 1967. I developed what they called a “brain fever” (encephalitis) at the time. I experienced convulsions and vivid hallucinations. I remember the hallucinations as if they were real. It took months for me to recover. I was fully aware of being near death. I was only six. Why would anyone want that for their child? And I really do have a “strong immune system” because I survived that experience without complications such as blindness, deafness and mental retardation. I had recurring fevers for months.

The Republican party has long had a problem with science. The party’s uber-religious base believes science is the enemy, and party elders (and candidates for higher office), knowing they can’t win without the Luddite vote, are all too willing to pander to parochial ignorance.

Chris Christie is no exception.

This indecisive political man-of-all-seasons seems to be a persistent trait of the governor-who-would-be-president. Chris Christie is trying to be all things to all people in a party where nice guys, and science-guys, finish last.

As Mitt Romney found in 2012, liberal Republicans can win the GOP presidential nomination by pretending to be conservatives. But in the end, the majority of voters, who aren’t far-right, don’t buy what the nouveau right is selling because the message is so obviously insincere.

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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59 Responses to “Indecisive Chris Christie suggests it’s ok not to vaccinate kids”

  1. christine728 says:

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  2. mirth says:

    Okay, I see I didn’t type sloooow enough for you.

    But, I have to admit that hilarity in these dark times is necessary and fun, so thanks for, y’know, providing.

  3. FLL says:

    Bill’s opinion needs supporting information because we just haven’t heard much about schemes to rig the system or suppress the vote on the part of Democrats. If you make such an unbelievable claim without a shred of evidence, it’s my opinion that you shouldn’t post the reply. See? I’m following your own advice about people being able to post their opinion freely. Your replies are just insults, sarcasm and temper tantrums, apparently in the hope that anyone who disagrees with you will be intimidated.

    And did I mention arrogance? Let’s take a look at this excerpt from your reply to Becca on a previous thread on which you disagreed with her (link to previous thread here):

    …but in doing that I’ve also learned that disagreements with your opinions can become circuitous, so I’ll end replies on this subject by saying that…

    So whenever she disagree with you, the argument becomes circular. In your opinion, that couldn’t possibly be your fault so it must be Becca’s. Next, we have your forbidding statement that “I’ll end replies on this subject.” Or else what? Is Becca in big trouble if she replies to your “final” reply in spite of your instructions? Your statements above are so arrogant, that they’re laughable. Who do I think I am? No, Sunshine, the question is who do you think you are? Apparently your accustomed to people being intimidated by you entertaining mix of insults and invective. Again… too bad.

  4. mirth says:

    I’ll type real slow, so as not to overtax you:

    1. Since when does an opinion expressed on a blog thread have to be preceded or followed by supporting information? It’s an opinion. Get it?

    2. You didn’t merely request examples from Mr. Perdue. You wrote that without meeting your personal commenting requirements, he should not have replied to Mark’s comment.

    How fucking dare you!

  5. FLL says:

    It’s not an attack. Jon Green’s post raises examples of unethical or illegal ploys on the part of Republicans to manipulate the system so that their votes get unfair weight. To my knowledge, it’s been exclusively Republicans who’ve done this, but Bill claims, in his reply to Mark, that Republicans who do this are only half of the problem. Bill’s claim is only an opinion unless he can cite some examples to support that opinion. If he can’t, his claim remains unsupported opinion, and it looks like my original conclusion is correct—vote rigging schemes are mainly or entirely a problem for the Republicans. I think most readers (or the moderators, if you insist on it, mirth) will think that my request for examples is reasonable.

    By the way, you can skip the “how dare you” routine. I won’t accept unsupported opinion as the truth, either from Bill or from a blowhard like you. Don’t like it? Too bad.

  6. mirth says:

    Nothing all that surprising about your ongoing and targeted personal attacks, but two things about this comment are amazing to me:

    1. That you dare to tell others when and when not they should comment.

    2. That you get away with it.

  7. FLL says:

    Bill Perdue’s reply to Mark’s criticism of Christie for suggesting that child vaccination is optional (which is the subject of the post):

    Not at all. But you’re only addressing half of the problem.

    Can you cite examples, Bill, of Democrats who suggest that child vaccination should be optional? If you can, fine, you’ve added to the discussion. If not, you shouldn’t have posted your reply.

  8. BeccaM says:

    I think belief in so-called conspiracy theories is a rational response
    to a lack of transparency in government and a lack of law enforcement at
    the highest levels of government, religion, business, etc.

    (emphasis added). An understandable response, perhaps, and one that makes sense from a psychological angle, but choosing to believe in crazy and improbable conspiracy theories is the opposite of rational. One of the worst aspects of this particular reaction to situations outside of a person’s control is they then expend large amounts of time and energy that in no way address the actual problems.

  9. therling says:

    The anti-vaccine crowd is also opposed to fluoridation. They say it’s a “neurotoxin” made from “industrial waste.” Recently the hippy-dippy, flaky-bakey New Age-y crowd in Portland, OR defeated a fluoridation ballot measure.

    Unfortunately, there are real victims of this nonsense: children whose parents can’t afford to provide them proper dental care.

  10. nicho says:

    Everything you say is absolutely true — but it’s Big Pharma’s other activities that give the ammunition to the anti-vaxers.

  11. caphillprof says:

    No. If you want to accomplish this, the very first step is to amend the constitution (a) to provide more senators to very populous states and (b) prevent gerrymandering in the House.

  12. caphillprof says:

    I think belief in so-called conspiracy theories is a rational response to a lack of transparency in government and a lack of law enforcement at the highest levels of government, religion, business, etc. We now have so much secrecy in alleged “democratic” government that we cannot know even the extent of the CIA and NSA budgets absent Wikileaks or Eric Snowden or have any iota of privacy from government snooping. The American myth has been upended and the masses feel powerless.

  13. caphillprof says:

    We are fast approaching the point in the history of the world where religious fiction must be forced to yield to scientific fact. Parental rights vis-a-vis their children cannot extend to abuse–to the child or to the community.

  14. rmthunter says:

    Oh, it’s much more than that — parents have the right to homeschool their children, withdraw them from school classes they don’t approve of, dictate to broadcasters what they can put on the air to avoid offending their kids’ delicate sensibilities — in other words, control their children’s lives fully and completely. These are the same people who start screaming about “children’s rights” when it comes to children being raised by same-sex couples.

  15. rmthunter says:

    I realized long ago that the extreme right and the extreme left are pretty much fungible — it’s the same mindset, the same thought processes, the same reliance on “authorities” who are crackpots themselves. It’s just the causes that are different, and the classification of “right” or “left” is pretty much arbitrary.

  16. Bill_Perdue says:

    Not at all. But you’re only addressing half of the problem.

  17. mark_in_toronto says:

    Christie is a clown and the GOP is a circus.
    Or am I being too harsh?

  18. BeccaM says:

    It’s all over the political spectrum and comes from a variety of positions…but the one thing most of the adherents have in common is a propensity for believing conspiracy theories.

  19. Houndentenor says:

    Most states already have this requirement. That’s my point. The anti-vaxxer parents have already figured out how to get around this. Also, a lot of them are quite well off and can afford lawyers. I agree with you, but I also think that with our current political culture of “how dare you tell me to wash my hands or wipe my ass” idiocy, it’s going to be hard to get people to do things that are just plain common sense, especially if it looks like the government is making them.

  20. Indigo says:

    That’s exactly what I’m hearing.

  21. Naja pallida says:

    I don’t really buy the big pharma argument. The profit margin on vaccines is a tiny fraction of a penny per unit, and their research and development is entirely offset by universities and public health organizations. They’re making their money off of acid reflux treatments, and high cholesterol drugs, not vaccines – not even the dreaded flu vaccine where the vast majority of the markup is at the healthcare provider end; it’s Walgreens and your doctor gouging you, not the manufacturer.

    In the end, it isn’t big pharma making the recommendations for vaccinations anyway, it’s tax-money funded, public health organizations. And not just those of deeply undercut and corrupt government agencies like the US has, but those of governments from countries the world over. Luddites just don’t seem to grasp the fundamental concepts of how scientific consensus is reached, and improved upon as our understanding grows. They don’t care. Their selfishness begins and ends with what they want, and only what they want. Everyone else be damned.

  22. mirth says:

    Or just to show up.

  23. Naja pallida says:

    Asking Congress to show up and do their jobs is apparently asking too much of them, on most days.

  24. “Luddite-enabling”???

    That’s Luddite *encouraging*. Any topic they can use to pit their voters against, well, Democrats | science | women |racial minorities | atheists | Muslims, etc. they will use and hyperbolize to the fullest extent possible. It’s just good business, you see…

  25. mirth says:

    No, I’m not, which is why I began my comment with “The first step…” considering that, by far, most US children do go to public school.

  26. mirth says:

    I love it when you talk dirt.

  27. Houndentenor says:

    There was an outbreak last year among homeschoolers who attended the same church. You’re thinking these kids all go to public school. Many don’t.

  28. Houndentenor says:

    I take a risk every time I get in my car and drive somewhere. We accept risks and do what we can to minimize them.

    The problem with the “big pharma” argument is that the “health food” industry is also a big business and is regulated far less than the pharmaceuticals. There needs to be reform in all of that, but the idea that doctors are just in it for the money while the “alternative” practitioners are not is laughable. Unless homeopathy is now free, I laugh at that. At least doctors tend to get results.

    This all comes from an idea that if something isn’t 100% effective it has no value. You also hear this line of thinking when abstinence only bullshitters talk about condoms. It shows a complete failure of critical thinking. This is what we get for a couple of generations of abiding nonsense as if it were legitimate so we didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings. Some ideas are flat out wrong and provably so.

    I will say this, when kids start dying from the measles (and it will be happening soon as there are now preschools where over 1/2 the kids are unvaccinated) I will fully support criminal prosecution of the parents. No, you don’t have a right to not vaccinate your children any more than you have a right to have them ride in the front seat of your car, or any other things we know to be dangerous.

  29. Nicholas A Kocal says:

    SO let me get this straight, parents should have the right to not vaccinate their child exposing other people to diseases that can cause tremendous harm or death. But a woman should NOT have the choice of saving her own life by having an abortion or dying (along with the fetus).

  30. Houndentenor says:

    Rand Paul said something similar today. I tend to associate anti-vaxxers with upper middle class types but I am learning that a lot of them are the Quiverfull-Homeschool types as well. Oy! I guess we’ve found the point at which far right crazy meets far left lunacy: vaccine nuts!

  31. BeccaM says:

    Yeah, true that. Just asking them to make vaccines mandatory alone, whatever conditions are draped on it like Christmas tree ornaments, is too much to ask from these ignorant Luddite-enabling jerkwads.

  32. mirth says:

    Good points, although you’re asking WAY too much of Congress. ;)

  33. BeccaM says:

    That’s why the list of actual medical reasons would need to be very short and very strict. “Deathly allergic to the vaccine, requiring hospitalization” is a valid reason. “Just received a heart transplant and is on immunosuppressants” is also a valid reason. “Patient reports feeling icky after shots” is not.

    Add some liabilities in there, such that a physician who issues a fraudulent medical exemption is held legally responsible if Little Johnny infects infant Sally or cancer-patient Kevin and they die.

    At least at that point, the opt-outs and their enablers would be committing an actual crime by doing so, thereby pushing the non-compliance rates down and perhaps restoring the necessary social immunity levels.

  34. mirth says:

    Yes, the subject of the post and heimaey’s comment is Republicans Who Fall Down.
    *eye roll*

  35. mirth says:

    I argue for no exceptions, which, for kind-hearted people, seems especially harsh for a child who has an actual medical reason to not be immunized and certainly some provision of the law should provide fed funds for their singular education. However, the purpose of such a nationwide law is to protect the majority from the minuscule number who would fall into that category, plus one can imagine how many rightwing (and anti-science, newager, plain ol’ stupid – “shuts that whole thing down”) physicians would write a phony release from the requirement.

    I also think “cowards” doesn’t quite cover the reasons Dems would be as useless on this issue as they are on nearly every other one of importance to the welfare of this country… but that’s a whole ‘nuther subject. :/

  36. mirth says:

    Very good point.

  37. nicho says:

    Part of the problem is that Big Pharma does hype things that are not only useless, but dangerous — and they actively hide the dangers. That makes it easier for the anti-vaxxers to use that as an argument. Did you ever hear the list of some of the side effects of these drugs — drugs for people who didn’t know they were sick until Big Pharma patented the drug? Go to the doctor these days, and there’s a good chance you’ll come out with a prescription.

    But vaccines have been around for over 200 years. We know they work. In my lifetime, I’ve seen dangerous diseases all but wiped out by vaccines. I would hate to see them come back.

    Are there risks? Of course there are, but there are risks associated with everything we do. There are risks from not exercising, but there are risks associated with going for a walk or driving to the gym. There are risks from eating and bigger risks from not eating. You need to balance the risk against the benefit. The benefit from vaccines is so overwhelming that it’s a no-brainer.

    My biggest concern is that by even participating in this “debate” is that it gives the impression to the anti-science crowd that this is open for discussion, that there is “another side.” It’s like “debating” someone over whether the earth is flat or round-ish. By arguing with them, we only validate their ideas.

  38. BeccaM says:

    A couple weeks ago, Larry Wilmore took on vaccines and the anti-vaxxer movement on his new Comedy Central show. He described in detail how the only study linking vaccines with autism had been totally fraudulent and the researcher who did it stripped of his medical license. There is no causal link.

    So, ten minutes later, during the panel discussion, the one woman on there to represent the anti-vaccination side does what? She tries to assert yet again the (non-existent) link between vaccines and autism.

    Her other main point was that pharmaceutical companies were making profits off vaccines, as if that somehow meant they don’t work.

    You’re right, Naja, these are the same arguments and the same bone-headed impenetrability fostered by the anti-fluoride crowd — but y’know, back then it was ALSO the Birchers and the back-to-nature types who claimed it was poison. Even though there were plenty of studies showing no toxicity and drastically reduced tooth decay in children and adults in communities where the water was treated.

  39. BeccaM says:

    I agree 100%. Should be mandatory, no non-medical exemptions, period. And the likelihood of such a measure passing is nil. GOPers because they’ve turned into f*cking Luddites from top to bottom and Dems because…well, they’re cowards.

  40. Naja pallida says:

    And many of the arguments we see against legislating vaccination are the exact same arguments the John Birch Society made against fluoridating water. And we know how that communist plot turned out!

  41. emjayay says:

    In high school some social studies teacher drew the classic left-to-right political line on the board and explained where it came from. He added that the far left and far right often have a lot in common. This is one time, when the hippies in Lagunitas share a position with the home schoolin’ anti-science Jesus crowd. It’s just that most of the basis for it is different, although both are anti-science. In Lagunitas, the kids have excellent immune systems from eating organic food and homeopathy, and it doesn’t “feel” right to inject “toxins” into their little perfect selves. Over at Jesus camp, I guess vaccination is a Socialist anti-Christian plot by big government controlling our lives.

  42. emjayay says:

    Not true. When he rejected the construction of a new train tunnel to NYC, already started and mostly paid for by federal money, in order to take the money and spend it on highways in NJ so the NJ gas tax could still be the second lowest in the nation he wasn’t insulted first or anything. And he was clever enough to call it a tunnel to Macy’s basement. Which is also where the N, R, Q, B, D, F, and M subways cross.

  43. mirth says:

    The first step towards fixing this impending disaster is for our government to make law a full immunizations requirement for attendance at every school receiving any federal funds. A unifying policy applying equally to each state. No exceptions. Republicans certainly won’t put it forward, but will a Democrat? Will either party’s candidates – and here I’m thinking of Grandma Hillary – even mention the necessity of such a federal law during the campaign season?

    Fuck no.

  44. AnitaMann says:

    All he needed to do was preface it with the GOP line, “I’m not a scientist but…” and then proceed to spout the anti-science nonsense of the day as if it were a valid and legitimate theory.

  45. BeccaM says:

    The Carnot cycle is a hoax and the Laws of Thermodynamics were invented by… Satan!

  46. Indigo says:

    I’ve heard so much nonsense from the free-range anti-science crowd that I’m ready to deploy my ultimate rhetorical weapon. Here goes: Gov. Christie, If that’s how you feel about science in the modern world, prove it. Unplug your refrigerator!

  47. Indigo says:

    I’ve heard so much nonsense from the free-range anti-science crowd that I’m ready to deploy my ultimate rhetorical weapon. Here goes: Gov. Christie, If that’s how you feel about science in the modern world, prove it. Unplug your refrigerator!

  48. FLL says:

    Then there’s history’s favorite Republican who trips and falls, Gerald Ford, followed by a Chevy Chase SNL compilation, which includes his interpretation of President Ford trimming a Christmas tree and falling over the desk in the Oval Office:

  49. heimaey says:

    I have watched this a million times, you should too:

  50. cambridgemac says:

    Umm, “choice” is for real Merkins – white, straight Republicans. The rest of us are to shut up and do as we’re told. It’s really pretty simple.

  51. Naja pallida says:

    That’s my read on it too. The standard press image of Christie is of this decisive, strong conservative leader, who makes the tough decisions no matter who disagrees with him. But reality simply doesn’t bear that out in any way. He’s just one of those floppy windsock guys in front of car dealerships and mattress sales, just like the rest of the right-wing limp noodles, who only have opinions and “deeply held convictions” that are dictated to them, and sway with whatever the prevailing wind of right-wing talk radio is on any given day.

    Denying your child a potentially life-saving vaccine isn’t a choice. Denying society the ability to live free of preventable diseases isn’t a choice. This has nothing to do with freedom, it’s about a group of people being selfish, petulant children, that simply don’t like being told what to do and are determined to do the exact opposite, regardless of the consequences, any time someone challenges their nonsensical notions.

  52. BeccaM says:

    This is the same Governor Christie who panicked and shat himself when the asymptomatic nurse Kaci Hickox returned from Africa and ordered her to be imprisoned in a canvas tent with a bucket for a toilet.

    One false forehead reading showing Ms. Hickox was flushed after hours of interrogation, followed by more accurate ear and oral checks showing she wasn’t feverish at all, followed by negative results for Ebola infection, and still that snarling coward Chris Christie wanted to keep her in that tent — without a TV or computer or anything other than the cell phone he probably would’ve denied her if he could have — for three pointless weeks.

    What a hypocritical ass. So much for ‘choice’, huh? Given his and the GOP’s position on reproductive freedoms and contraception and even the idea of affordable guaranteed-issue health insurance, they seem to believe really in only one “choice”: Not to receive appropriate medical treatment.

    These so-called ‘childhood’ diseases can cripple, cause deafness or blindness, ruin hearts and other internal organs, cause permanent brain damage, or even kill. Complications can linger for months or for the rest of one’s life. For many of the diseases, the risk of lethal outcomes goes up with age. They can cripple or kill fetuses even in mothers who have been vaccinated. Even if you’ve been a good Do Bee and gotten your shots, if you have the misfortune to come down with cancer or need a transplant, or hell you’re just elderly and your immune system isn’t working so great anymore — all of a sudden every anti-vaxxer parents’ special snowflakes become potentially lethal risks to you.

    Moreover, for a lot of kids, coming down with polio, diphtheria, measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, or chicken pox literally can be the worst experiences of their childhoods — and tragically, unnecessarily so. As I’ve recounted elsewhere, I spent two weeks in the 2nd grade with mumps, with a throat on fire, having fever-hallucinations, and thinking pretty much constantly that I was going to die…and sometimes wishing it would happen so it’d be over. And my brother suffered severe birth defects due to the 1963-65 rubella outbreak, because our mother was exposed while she was pregnant with him. Children do not need to be made to suffer for the foolishness and selfish short-sightedness of science-denying adults.


  53. gratuitous says:

    Hmmm, “choice.” Where have I heard that word before, particularly vis-a-vis decisions by parents such as whether or not to have children at all or at a specific time? “Choice.” Right on the tip of my tongue. Maddening, when one can’t remember like that. But let’s just generalize and put Gov. Christie in the camp of letting adults have choice unfettered by government overreach when it comes to vaccinations or other affairs of the child. Does that sound okay?

    I swear, these buffoons are such weathervanes.

  54. mirth says:

    Porcine Prat panders for Amish votes.

  55. nicho says:

    Christie is wrong. Vaccination is not a personal decision. It’s a social obligation.

    I’d go further and say it’s a serious public health issue. And not vaccinating your child is endangering the health and lives of other people.

  56. iamlegion says:

    This is really something that needs to be pointed out & hammered on if he actually tries to make a run for the Presidency – the only times Christie takes a stand & shows any backbone at all is when he feels someone has insulted or disrespected him. And then he takes the opposing stance from them, regardless of the stupidity of that stance. This is the maturity level he’s shown throughout his _entire adult life_.

  57. 2karmanot says:

    “Those parents think, incorrectly, that vaccines cause autism” Everybody knows that autism is caused by the toxic fumes given off by hovering helicopter parents,

  58. Bill_Perdue says:

    All children should be vaccinated. This is becoming more clear as data on the spread of disease linked to global warming/climate change becomes clear. This year, and for every year to come for centuries, the forecast is for increasingly sever climate change and increasing levels of species death combined with conditions that will make human life much harder to sustain.

    Democrats in the WH and Congress support fracking and offshore drilling. Many support Keystone. So do most Republicans. Democrats and Republicans are the enemies of a sustainable environment. People who don’t want children vaccinated help spread deadly diseases and aren’t fit to hold office or be parents. Politicians who who work for energy compaines while pretending to represent the people are unfit for office and should be impeached and prosecuted.

    “2014 is officially in the books as the hottest year on record, and all 10 of the hottest years have occurred since 1998. … With experts calling our current time period the sixth great mass extinction event in earth’s history, we have been warned to expect between 30 to 50 percent of all current species to go extinct by 2050 due primarily to ACD. … To make matters worse, another major study published in Science recently found that human activity has already pushed the planet beyond four of its nine “planetary boundaries.” The conclusion of the study said that at the rate things are progressing, the coming decades will see the earth no longer as a “safe operating space” for human beings, let alone most other species.” My emphasis.

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