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Buttigieg first says he backs 'religious exemptions' for vaccines; then reverses stance hours after criticism from Democrats, media

'He believes only medical exemptions should be allowed'

Photographer: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Democrat Pete Buttigieg was one of several presidential candidates who revealed their vaccine stances in a BuzzFeed News article published Tuesday night, and a spokesperson for the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, told the outlet Buttigieg supports personal belief and religious exemptions with parameters.

"The law of the land for more than a century has been that states may enforce mandatory vaccination for public safety to prevent the spread of a dangerous disease," the spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. "Pete does support some exceptions, except during a public health emergency to prevent an outbreak."

The spokesperson added to the outlet that "these exemptions include medical exemptions in all cases (as in cases where it is unsafe for the individual to get vaccinated), and personal/religious exemptions if states can maintain local herd immunity and there is no public health crisis."

Buttigieg — who's married to a man — also is a veteran and got attention recently for proclaiming his Christianity in an attack against Vice President Mike Pence.

Backlash

However, Buttigieg's initial statement drew online criticism from journalists and Democratic activists, CNN said, adding that some accused his campaign of "standing with anti-vaccination proponents ... who choose not to vaccinate their children for a number of reasons."

Mediaite's headline on the matter begins with the phrase, "Mayor Pete Fumbles Badly on Vaccinations," and the article notes that Buttigieg was the only candidate in the BuzzFeed News report to say he supports exemptions other than those for medical reasons.

Sudden change of heart?

The BuzzFeed News piece — published Tuesday at 7:48 p.m. — noted that the Buttigieg campaign added a "clarifying statement" early Wednesday saying he supports only medical exemptions for vaccinations.

"Pete believes vaccines are safe and effective and are necessary to maintaining public health," the spokesperson told the outlet. "There is no evidence that vaccines are unsafe, and he believes children should be immunized to protect their health. He is aware that in most states the law provides for some kinds of exemptions. He believes only medical exemptions should be allowed."

Anything else?

Vaccines have been making big headlines of late:

One last thing…
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