Yes, Chris Christie, “˜Not Every Vaccine Is Created Equal.’ Get Them Anyway.

When a vaccine is ineffective, it’s even more important for everyone to have it.

National Journal
Brian Resnick
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Brian Resnick
Feb. 2, 2015, 7:52 a.m.

With pres­id­en­tial primary sea­son loom­ing, New Jer­sey Gov. Chris Christie is fi­nally voicing his opin­ion on na­tion­al is­sues. And out of the gate, he’s stir­ring up con­tro­versy. Monday morn­ing, Christie said that while he be­lieves vac­cin­a­tion is a pub­lic good, par­ents should have a de­gree of choice in the mat­ter. The Wash­ing­ton Post quoted him say­ing, “Not every vac­cine is cre­ated equal, and not every dis­ease type is as great a pub­lic health threat as oth­ers.” These com­ments come just a day after Pres­id­ent Obama urged all par­ents to “get your kids vac­cin­ated,” in light of the re­cent measles out­break in Cali­for­nia.

Christie’s of­fice did cla­ri­fy his po­s­i­tion. “There is no ques­tion kids should be vac­cin­ated,” a state­ment read. But his thoughts on policy are vague. He calls for “a meas­ure of choice,” and “bal­ance” over which vac­cines the gov­ern­ment should man­date. Yes, it would be prob­ably be weird pub­lic policy if the U.S. gov­ern­ment took a to­tal­it­ari­an ap­proach: bar­ging in­to homes with nurses and syr­inges. There are some le­git­im­ate reas­ons not to vac­cin­ate a child. Al­ler­gic re­ac­tions can hap­pen. There are tricky vac­cin­a­tion de­cisions to make for chil­dren born with HIV. But for the vast, vast ma­jor­ity of chil­dren, vac­cines are safe, and they should stay to the pre­scribed sched­ule.

If Christie is ad­voc­at­ing for the par­ent­al right to choose vac­cin­a­tions à la carte (it isn’t clear if he is) based on how ef­fect­ive the vac­cines are and how dan­ger­ous the dis­eases are, his think­ing is curi­ous. Look no fur­ther than the mumps and the flu.

The mumps vac­cine — in­cluded in the MMR shot that also in­ocu­lates for measles and ru­bella — is not that great. De­pend­ing on how many doses a per­son gets, the mumps vac­cine is about 80 to 90 per­cent ef­fect­ive. Mean­ing that out of 100 people with the shot, about 20 still might be able to get the mumps.

But more people with the vac­cine means few­er op­por­tun­it­ies for those 20 people to be­come in­fec­ted. It’s called herd im­munity: Hav­ing more people in a com­munity with the mumps vac­cine makes every in­di­vidu­al’s dose of the vac­cine, in ef­fect, stronger. For mumps, doc­tors say between 88 and 92 per­cent of people in a group need to have the vac­cine to keep the dis­ease from spread­ing.

And con­sider the flu, a dis­ease that most healthy kids can ride out just fine. It’s really im­port­ant for chil­dren to get the flu shot. Be­cause kids are gross. Chil­dren most read­ily pass the flu on to oth­ers, in­clud­ing the eld­erly, who of­ten don’t ride out the dis­ease just fine. The journ­al Vac­cine finds that the op­tim­al way to mit­ig­ate a flu sea­son is to pri­or­it­ize kids.

So yes, Gov­ernor, not all vac­cines are cre­ated equal. And neither are dis­eases. But wheth­er those facts should factor in­to a vac­cin­a­tion de­cision … well, it’s a lot more com­plic­ated than that.

What We're Following See More »
White House Adds Five New SCOTUS Candidates
8 hours ago

President Trump added five new names to his Supreme Court short list on Friday, should a need arise to appoint a new justice. The list now numbers 25 individuals. They are: 7th Circuit Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Georgia Supreme Court Justice Britt C. Grant, District of Columbia Circuit Appeals Court Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, 11th Circuit Appeals Judge Kevin C. Newsom, and Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Patrick Wyrick.

Sessions: DOJ Will No Longer Issue Guidance Documents
9 hours ago

"Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Friday the Justice Department will revamp its policy for issuing guidance documents. Speaking at the Federalist Society’s annual conference in Washington Friday, Sessions said the Justice Department will no longer issue guidance that 'purports to impose new obligations on any party outside the executive branch.' He said DOJ will review and repeal any documents that could violate this policy." Sessions said: “Too often, rather than going through the long, slow, regulatory process provided in statute, agencies make new rules through guidance documents—by simply sending a letter. This cuts off the public from the regulatory process by skipping the required public hearings and comment periods—and it is simply not what these documents are for. Guidance documents should be used to explain existing law—not to change it.”

Trump to Begin Covering His Own Legal Bills
10 hours ago
Steele Says Follow the Money
12 hours ago

"Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who wrote the explosive dossier alleging ties between Donald Trump and Russia," says in a new book by The Guardian's Luke Harding that "Trump's land and hotel deals with Russians needed to be examined. ... Steele did not go into further detail, Harding said, but seemed to be referring to a 2008 home sale to the Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev. Richard Dearlove, who headed the UK foreign-intelligence unit MI6 between 1999 and 2004, said in April that Trump borrowed money from Russia for his business during the 2008 financial crisis."

Goldstone Ready to Meet with Mueller’s Team
12 hours ago

"The British publicist who helped set up the fateful meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a group of Russians at Trump Tower in June 2016 is ready to meet with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's office, according to several people familiar with the matter. Rob Goldstone has been living in Bangkok, Thailand, but has been communicating with Mueller's office through his lawyer, said a source close to Goldstone."


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.