Christie in 2009: ‘I Stand With’ Autism-Fearing Anti-Vaxx Parents

The New Jersey governor says parents ‘need to have some measure of choice’ about contributing to deadly outbreaks. It’s not the first time.

02.02.15 3:20 PM ET

Chris Christie is pro-choice again—at least when it comes to vaccines.

The New Jersey governor said Monday that he believes that parents “need to have some measure of choice” over vaccinating their children against measles, despite a recent outbreak of the virus that was caused by parents not vaccinating their children. What a world!

While visiting Cambridge, England, Christie was asked about vaccinations, according to The New York Times.

He said that although he and his wife had vaccinated their children, “It’s more important what you think as a parent than what you think as a public official. 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… Not every vaccine is created equal, and not every disease type is as great a public-health threat as others.”

Statements like this have long kept Christie on the good side of the anti-vaccination crowd.

While running for governor in 2009, Christie wrote a letter wherein he seemed to acknowledge a link between autism and vaccinations—a theory for which there is no scientific proof.

“I have met with families affected by autism from across the state and have been struck by their incredible grace and courage. Many of these families have expressed their concern over New Jersey’s highest-in-the-nation vaccine mandates. I stand with them now, and will stand with them as their governor in their fight for greater parental involvement in vaccination decisions that affect their children.”

Also in 2009, Christie told The Don Imus Show that he struggled with then-Gov. Jon Corzine’s flu-shot mandate and the problems some parents have with vaccines.

Later Monday, a Christie spokeman issued a statement urging vaccinations for viruses like measles.

“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. 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.”

Asked to confirm whether Christie believes it’s possible that vaccines cause autism, his office did not respond. (It surfaced Monday that then-candidate Barack Obama said in 2008: "We've seen just a skyrocketing autism rate. Some people are suspicious that it's connected to the vaccines. This person included. The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it.")

It’s easy to forget, given Christie’s reputation as a no-nonsense pragmatist, but he often finds himself at odds with the medical establishment and basic common sense on issues of health.

During the Ebola outbreak in October, Christie quarantined a nurse who had just returned from West Africa for three days. Everyone from the Centers for Disease Control to the Obama administration protested Christie’s decision to keep the woman in a tent, but Christie was unapologetic, saying it was his duty to protect the health of the people of New Jersey.

Too bad she didn’t have the measles.

This story has been updated throughout.