New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has faced an onslaught of criticism after saying Monday that the government needs to balance the need for parents to have "some measure of choice" in vaccinating their children — but he isn't the only prospective Republican presidential candidate making that argument. Carly Fiorina made similar remarks in an interview with BuzzFeed News a week ago.
Asked whether a recent measles outbreak that has spread across 14 states signals further proof that children need to be vaccinated, Fiorina said, "I think parents have to make choices for their family and their children."
But Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard who is considering a 2016 presidential bid, added, "I think there's a big difference between — just in terms of the mountains of evidence we have — a vaccination for measles and a vaccination when a girl is 10 or 11 or 12 for cervical cancer just in case she's sexually active at 11. So, I think it's hard to make a blanket statement about it. I certainly can understand a mother's concerns about vaccinating a 10-year-old."
She went on, "I think vaccinating for measles makes a lot of sense. But that's me. I do think parents have to make those choices. I mean, I got measles as a kid. We used to all get measles... I got chicken pox, I got measles, I got mumps."
Fiorina made the comments in an interview with BuzzFeed News ahead of the Jan. 24 Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines, where her speech taking to task Hillary Clinton and Republican congressional leadership generated buzz among the conservative activists in attendance.
Her remarks, along with Christie's, represent how the vaccination debate could prove politically thorny going forward. Anti-vaccine parents argue strongly that vaccinations are more dangerous to children than the diseases they prevent — with some even suggesting that immunizations can cause autism, a claim that has been since rejected by the medical community.
Gov. Rick Perry's 2007 mandate that girls in Texas receive vaccinations against HPV was the subject of heated debate during the 2012 Republican primaries. Perry eventually called the decision to require the vaccine a "mistake."