What Does Hillary Think About Vaccines?

by Alicia Lu

As Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign kicks into high gear, many are wondering what her position is on a number of issues, especially the extremely polarizing ones. Though it wasn't always a partisan debate, vaccines have come to help define one's party line, with Republicans generally favoring the freedom to choose to vaccinate kids and Democrats championing the science behind vaccination. So where does Clinton stand? According to a recent tweet, Clinton is staunchly pro-vaccine, even though she wasn't always so resolute.

In early February, both Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and official Republican candidate for 2016 Sen. Rand Paul spoke out undermining vaccines, arguing that parents should have the choice to decide and that vaccines have been linked to mental disabilities. Following Christie and Paul's comments, Clinton released her own statement later that day in the form of a tweet that very plainly refuted their claims. It read: "The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let's protect all our kids. #GrandmothersKnowBest."

Sure, she didn't call the two GOPers out specifically, but the timing and content of her message seemed to be clearly directed at their comments from the day before.

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On Feb. 2, while touring a biomedical research facility in Cambridge, England, Christie, who is considering a 2016 presidential run, told reporters:

Mary Pat and I have had our children vaccinated, and we think that it’s an important part of being sure we protect their health and the public health. 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. ... Not every vaccine is created equal, and not every disease type is as great a public-health threat as others.
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On the same day, Paul called vaccination "an issue of freedom" in an interview with CNBC, echoing pseudo-scientific claims that Michele Bachmann made in 2011:

I have heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines.

Despite Clinton's unequivocal stance in her recent tweet, she hasn't always steadfastly supported vaccines. Back in 2008, Clinton answered a questionnaire from autism advocacy group Advocates for Children’s Health Affected by Mercury Poisoning (A-CHAMP), in which she replied:

I am committed to make investments to find the causes of autism, including possible environmental causes like vaccines. ... We don't know what, if any, kind of link there is between vaccines and autism — but we should find out.
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These days, Clinton is much more confident in the science behind vaccines, perhaps because many of the concerns surrounding vaccination, particularly that they can cause autism, have been dispelled. Even Autism Speaks, one of the largest autism advocacy groups in the country, has backed vaccines. Rob Ring, Chief Science Officer of Autism Speaks, writes on the organization's official site:

The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism. We urge that all children be fully vaccinated.

Images: Getty Images (3)