New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s office emphasized Monday that he believes "vaccines are an important public health protection" and that with diseases like measles "there is no question kids should be vaccinated."
The emphasis came after Christie was quoted saying "parents need to have some measure of choice" over the vaccines their children are mandated to receive.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) speaks to guests at the Iowa Freedom Summit, Jan. 24, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Speaking in London, Christie said he and his wife chose to have their four kids vaccinated and that's "the best expression I can give you of my opinion."
"It's much more important, I think, what you think as a parent than what you think as a public official," Christie said, according to full remarks released by his office. "And that's what we do. But 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."
Christie, an expected contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, said later that “not every vaccine is created equal, and not every disease type is as great a public health threat as others.”
According to the full remarks released, Christie said he "didn't say I'm leaving people the option" of not getting vaccinated or that he thinks some vaccines are dangerous, but that "different disease types can be more lethal so that the concern would be measuring whatever the perceived danger is by vaccine, and we've had plenty of that over a period of time versus what the risk to public health is and you have to have that balance
Christie's initial reported comments about parents' "choice" on vaccines kicked off a firestorm, including some who declared his presidential ambitions "done" and that Christie had "disqualified" himself.
"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 spokesman Kevin Roberts 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."
Christie's comments came the day after President Barack Obama, amid the spreading U.S. measles outbreak, told NBC News: "I understand that there are families that in some cases are concerned about the effect of vaccinations. The science is, you know, pretty indisputable. We've looked at this again and again. There is every reason to get vaccinated, but there aren't reasons to not."