Dr. Ben Carson, a possible 2016 presidential candidate and one of the nation’s most prominent pediatric neurosurgeons, took a different approach to vaccines than his two possible rivals, Chris Christie and Rand Paul.
In a statement to The Hill, Carson explained that although he believes in a person’s individual right to raise their children how they see fit, there is a public health and safety aspect that is quite important to society.
“Although I strongly believe in individual rights and the rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit, I also recognize that public health and public safety are extremely important in our society,” Carson said.
“Certain communicable diseases have been largely eradicated by immunization policies in this country and we should not allow those diseases to return by foregoing safe immunization programs, for philosophical, religious or other reasons when we have the means to eradicate them,” he added.
Both Christie and Paul came under fire Monday after suggesting that parents should be able to make the decision whether or not to vaccinate their children.
In an impromptu press conference in England, Christie said “parents need to have some measure of choice,” but quickly clarified his statements after his comment made headlines in the U.S.
“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,” Christie’s office said in a statement. “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.”
Senator Paul, however, maintained his belief that parents have the right to choose.
“The state doesn’t own your children,” Paul said. “Parents own the children, and it is an issue of freedom and public health.”