Chris Christie Taking Shots After Comments on Vaccination and Parental Choice

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie got in on the vaccine controversy today with comments that some claimed could doom his presidential hopes.

From the New York Times:

Mr. Christie, when asked about the connection between the new measles cases and parents who object to the long-recommended vaccine against it, said that he and his wife had vaccinated their four children. He called that “the best expression I can give you of my opinion.”

But he added: “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.”

Mr. Christie said that “not every vaccine is created equal, and not every disease type is as great a public health threat as others.”

Bloomberg News revived a 2009 letter Christie wrote to vaccine-skeptic group Life Health Choices while on the campaign trail. "I have met with families affected by autism from across the state and have been struck by their incredible grace and courage," wrote Christie. "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."

Christie's office issued a clarification today: "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."

In an interview aired Sunday night on NBC, President Obama said, “You should get your kids vaccinated."

“I understand that there are families that, in some cases, are concerned about the effect of vaccinations,” Obama said. “The science is, you know, pretty indisputable.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Friday that Obama "certainly believes that these kinds of decisions are decisions that should be made by parents, because ultimately when we're talking about vaccinations, we're typically talking about vaccinations that are given to children."

"But the science on this, as our public health professionals I'm sure would be happy to tell you, the science on this is really clear," Earnest added. "...And being guided by the science in matters like this is typically the right approach."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden made the Sunday show rounds to talk measles, telling ABC it's "a serious disease and it would be terrible if we have preventable illness, even death, from this disease that's preventable with a safe and effective vaccine."

"We've had over 1 billion vaccines given. And the study after study has shown that there are no negative long-term consequences. And in fact, 92 percent of kids are vaccinated and if you look at the kids who aren't vaccinated, most of their parents don't have very strong feelings; they're just concerned that maybe measles isn't around anymore or maybe their kid shouldn't get one more shot," Frieden said.