Gov. Bobby Jindal was among several possible Republican presidential contenders who came out firmly in favor of childhood vaccinations on Tuesday.
The dust-up over vaccinations emerged this week after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, seen as another likely candidate for the GOP nomination in 2016, raised the issue of parental choice in deciding whether children should be vaccinated — despite an ongoing measles resurgence in the U.S. In a statement Tuesday, Jindal appeared to take a swipe at Christie, with whom he has had a rocky relationship that’s well-documented.
“There is a lot of fear mongering out there on this,” Jindal said. “I think it is irresponsible for leaders to undermine the public’s confidence in vaccinations that have been tested and proven to protect public health. Science supports them and they keep our children safe from potentially deadly but preventable diseases. Personally, I would not send my kids to a school that did not require vaccinations. Vaccinations are important. I urge every parent to get them. Every one.”
Every state requires childhood vaccinations for public schools and pre-kindergarten, but Louisiana is among 19 states that allow exemptions for philosophical or personal reasons, on top of the standard health exemptions all states allow.
Jindal’s statement didn’t specifically address those exemptions or whether there should be a stronger law requiring more kids be vaccinated for diseases like measles, mumps and rubella — one of the most common vaccines today.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health advisory last month warning of a multi-state measles outbreak.
According to the CDC, the U.S. saw 644 measles cases spread across 27 states last year — the most documented since the nation declared measles eliminated in 2010.
More than 100 additional cases were documented last month.
Some have sought to tie the resurgence in measles to anti-vaccination trends.
None of the documented cases have been linked to Louisiana, which has one of the highest vaccination rates among schoolchildren in the country, according to data from the CDC.
Critics of vaccines have tried to link them to autism and other ailments, though those claims routinely have been debunked by health experts.
Others have opposed mandatory vaccinations on the grounds that the decision should be left to parents.
The Mississippi Tea Party currently is pushing “vaccine choice” legislation in that state.
But several high-profile politicians have come out this week strongly in favor of vaccinations, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, an early frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination; Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas; Dr. Ben Carson, who is frequently named among GOP presidential contenders; and Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, of Florida.