Here's Where the 2016 Presidential Candidates Stand on Vaccines

February 2nd 2015

Finally, here's one issue that doesn't take political sides: vaccinations and immunizations. In fact, a team headed up by Harvard and Yale University researchers (led by Professor Dan M. Kahan) from January 2014 found little-to-no correlation between left/right political leanings and skepticism when it comes to immunizing children. Could a bipartisan agreement on the necessity of vaccinations be in our future? Maybe! But it totally depends on those with the power. So where, then, do our beloved 2016 presidential hopefuls stand on the issue that has become increasingly fought-over in the public space? Short answer: all over the place! Just take a quick look at our wee list of the current big name Democrats and Republicans hoping to takeover that fancy-schmancy Oval Office in a few years.

Chris Christie (R)

It's no surprise we're starting with Gov. Christie — after all, his comments on Monday regarding vaccines have been all the rage. While speaking outside of a facility owned by an American company that manufactures a nasal flu vaccine, the governor asserted that even though he vaccinated his own children that "parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well, so that’s the balance that the government has to decide." He later went on to clarify this statement by insisting he meant that states deserve the right to decide which vaccines to mandate, and that he, himself, has had his children vaccinated.

Jeb Bush (R)

Jeb Bush

As it stands, Jeb Bush has yet to make any sort of public statement on vaccines or vaccinations in general. We've reached out to his presidential PAC (RightToRise) and will update you once we receive comment.

Hillary Clinton (D)

Hillary Clinton

UPDATE: 10:45 PM EST - When it comes to Hillary's stance on the matter, well, her tweet on Monday night was pretty clear:

Back in her FLOTUS days, Clinton spearheaded the Vaccines for Children program, hoping to utilize the government's federal powers to ensure universal immunization of children. Today,  one of the main initiatives at The Clinton Foundation is accelerating the rollouts of new vaccines worldwide. It's worth noting that as a  2008 presidential candidate, though, both she and then-Sen. Obama were open to the idea of researching the potential link between vaccination and Autism.

Ted Cruz (R)

Ted Cruz

Another hopeful that has so far been mums-the-word on the vaccination front is Texas Senator Ted Cruz. We've reached out to his office and will update the story once we receive an official comment.

Elizabeth Warren (D)

Elizabeth Warren

When it comes to her stance on immunization, Warren has yet to comment publicly. (We have reached out for that and will update should we get a response.) It does seem fair, however, to assume that hers will be a stance based on science, given her recent call for increased funding for the National Institute of Health and biomedical research in general. Research that has given rise to 15 of the top vaccinations developed in the past 20 years.

Marco Rubio (R)

Marco Rubio

While his personal politics — and stance on whether or not vaccination is a private choice or public requirement — are as-yet unknown, the Florida Senator's support of Gavi, the international alliance tasked with increasing access to vaccines and immunizations of children in poorer nations, does seem to indicate that he may be pro-vaccination for children. I mean just look at his comment regarding the bipartisan resolution: "Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, ensures that children in the poorest countries have access to life-saving vaccines and immunizations. This resolution highlights Gavi's successes in helping children live longer and healthier lives, while reaffirming U.S. support for it." We've reached out to Senator Rubio for an official comment and will report back.

Julian Castro (D)

Julian Castro

The former mayor of San Antonio, Texas and current secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has been silent when it comes to the vaccination debate. We've reached out for comment and will update you as we hear back.

Mike Huckabee (R)

Mike Huckabee

Though Huckabee has nothing all that nice to say when former Representative Michele Bachmann took Rick Perry to task for his mandatory HPV vaccination policies (she inferred that the vaccine could cause mental retardation and put "little children's lives at risk") — saying "she went a little too far afterward in saying that a woman told her that her daughter developed mental retardation after getting that vaccine" and touting that doctors have "stacks of research showing no links between vaccinations and serious brain problems" — the Governor went slightly against all that with his recent email newsletter. Renting out his newsletter to a paid sponsor organization called Newsmax Health, Huckabee (along with Scott Brown) exposed their followers to a video that touted debunked research claiming that those who get a flu vaccine yearly for 3-5 years have an increased risk for Alzheimer's ("ten-fold").

Scott Walker (R)

Scott Walker

Scott Walker, the conservative Wisconsin governor, has no official stance on whether or not children should be required to be vaccinated, but he did work on a campaign with Hallmark that sent cards to new parents urging them to immunize their newborns.

Rand Paul (R)

Joining Christie on the idealized have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too bandwagon is Rand Paul, who advocated for it to be a personal choice for each parent. "I think vaccines are one of the greatest medical breakthroughs that we have," Paul told CNBC's Kelly Evans on Monday. "I'm a big fan and a great fan of the history of the development of the smallpox vaccine, for example. But you know, for most of our history, they have been voluntary. So I don't think "'I'm arguing for anything out of the ordinary. We are arguing for what most of our history has had."

Overall, the most important thing to note when considering your own stance on the matter — outside of the verified science available to us all that breaks down any hypothetical links between immunization and unintended illnesses — is the welfare of everyone else. Because like it or not, a child not being vaccinated does not just affect the child, but all the kids and adults with whom they come into contact. 

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