New Jersey Governor seeks 'balance' in vaccine debate

Mon Feb 2, 2015 12:53pm EST
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By Sam Wilkin

LONDON Feb 2 (Reuters) - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a potential 2016 presidential contender, on Monday kicked off a fresh debate about vaccinations, saying his children received the recommended shots for measles but that parents needed a measure of choice.

Measles was declared eliminated from the United States in 2000 but a recent outbreak in California renewed debate over the so-called anti-vaccination movement. Fears about potential side effects of vaccines, fueled by debunked theories suggesting a link to autism, led some parents to refuse to allow their children to be inoculated.

"There has to be a balance and it depends on what the vaccine is, what the disease type is and all the rest," said Christie, on a trip to the United Kingdom. "I didn't say I'm leaving people the option. What I'm saying is that you have to have that balance in considering parental concerns."

The trip involved meetings and a tour at a life sciences research park in Cambridge, which prompted questions about the U.S. vaccination debate.

"All I can say is that we vaccinated ours," said Christie. "That's the best expression I can give you of my opinion... But 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."

Democratic New Jersey Assemblyman Herb Conaway, criticized Christie's "wavering comments" as "irresponsible and endanger the health of our communities".

"The only thing government has to balance is what's best for the overall public health, and that means unambiguously supporting vaccinations," Conaway said in a statement.

Christie is in the UK - his state's third-largest trading partner after Canada and Mexico - to promote his state's life sciences industry. He will also be meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron.   Continued...