Rand Paul Says Vaccines Should Be Up to Parents, Not Government

The potential 2016 contender says that the government's job is not to mandate medicine.

National Journal

Sen. Rand Paul is joining the GOP chorus standing up against mandatory vaccinations.

The potential Republican presidential contender, and medical doctor, told conservative radio-host Laura Ingraham Monday that parents should be able to make their own decisions about their kids' medical future.

"While I think it is a good idea to take the vaccine, I think that is a personal decision for individuals," Paul said.

A clip of the radio interview was posted by the Democratic National Committee, a hint that vaccination policy may distinguish the parties in the upcoming presidential election. The issue, however, has historically not divided Republicans and Democrats. A 2009 Pew Research Center poll found that 71 percent of Republicans believed that vaccines against childhood diseases should be required, and 71 percent of Democrats felt the same.

Paul is not the only one to be asked about vaccinations in recent days. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told reporters during a trip to England, he believed that parents should have "some measure of choice" over vaccinations. He later clarified his statement to say that he still believed it was a good idea for parents to vaccinate their children. And Carly Fiorina, another potential GOP presidential contender, told BuzzFeed News that parents should be allowed to choose whether or not vaccinations were right for their children.

In his interview with Ingraham, Paul also attacked former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who famously mandated that young women in his state get the HPV vaccine, which protects against a sexually transmitted disease known to cause cervical cancer. Paul also divulged some personal details about his own children and their vaccinations. Paul told Ingraham that he delayed some of the vaccines the hospital suggested, including one against Hepatitis B.

Paul left some wiggle room, however, for his position and added, "There are times when there should be some rules."