Politics makes strange bedfellows. So said American essayist Charles Dudley Warner.
Mr. Warner would’ve been surprised to learn the measles vaccine has likewise produced some unlikely pairs.
Such as Hillary Clinton and Bill O’Reilly.
Or Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner.
Politicians, especially those considering a run for the presidency in 2016, find themselves in the position of having to take a stand on the vaccine.
Some Hollywood celebrities and talk show hosts have also decided to vent their opinions.
The statements have been spurred by the current outbreak of measles as well as the debate over whether parents should be given the option not to have their children vaccinated.
Critics have to step carefully through a backlash against vaccine opponents, as well as scientific studies showing there is no connection between the vaccine and developmental conditions such as autism.
What the Politicians Are Saying
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie quickly discovered how tricky the issue can be for politicians.
On Monday while on a trip in the United Kingdom, Christie said his children have been vaccinated but added he believed there should be some “balance” and that parents “need to have some measure of choice.”
Christie’s office, however, quickly backtracked, according to a story published by The Washington Post. They released a statement saying although the governor supports parental choice, he personally believes children should be vaccinated, especially in light of the measles outbreak.
Fellow Republican Rand Paul was more definitive. He said on CNBC that children’s vaccines should be voluntary.
The Kentucky senator, who is also a doctor, said vaccines are a “good thing,” but added, “the state doesn’t own your children.”
In response, Democrat Hillary Clinton took the opportunity to jab her Republican rivals. On her Twitter feed she wrote:
“The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let’s protect all our kids. #GrandmothersKnowBest”
Image source: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AHclintonm.jpg
Clinton was joined by U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi.
The House Minority Leader said she was sympathetic to parents’ concerns, but reiterated that preserving public health requires all children to be vaccinated, according to a story published by The Huffington Post.
To the surprise of some observers, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner agreed.
“I don’t know that we need another law, but I do believe that all children ought to be vaccinated,” he was quoted as saying.
In an interview on NBC’s "Today" show Monday, President Barack Obama also urged parents to get vaccinations for their children.
Talk Show Hosts Weigh in
Some talk show hosts have joined the fray.
Fox News’ Megyn Kelly came out strongly this week in favor of mandatory vaccinations, according to a story published by The Huffington Post.
Kelly said on “The O’Reilly Factor” that she had her three young children vaccinated on time, as recommended by her doctor.
"This is going to be a big issue for these politicians going forward, because it's about Big Brother," she said. "But on the other hand, some things do require some involvement of Big Brother."
The show’s host, Bill O’Reilly, agreed, saying, “Some things do.”
Image source: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AMegynKelly.jpg
Another Fox News host, Sean Hannity, isn’t in line with his colleagues.
During a panel discussion on his show, Hannity said he agreed with Christie that parents should have a choice.
Celebrities Jump into the Debate
Some Hollywood celebrities have also felt the need to chime in.
Most famously, Jenny McCarthy has said she believes there may be a connection between her son’s autism and the MMR vaccine.
Last year, she wrote an op-ed for the Chicago Sun-Times in which she said she wasn’t anti-vaccine. The former host of “The View” said instead she feels parents should be educated on vaccines before allowing them to be administered to their children.
McCarthy’s former boyfriend, Jim Carrey, is also skeptical of vaccines.
In a blog for The Huffington Post in 2011, the comedian was critical of the vaccination schedule for children in the United States. He also said pharmaceutical company profits may play a role in the issue.
Alicia Silverstone is wary of vaccines, too.
In a book she released last year, the “Clueless” actress said she didn’t get her children vaccinated and was critical of what she described as the “one-size-fits-all, shoot-‘em-up” vaccination schedules.
Jennifer Lopez and Amanda Peet feel differently.
Both actresses have issued statements of support for vaccines in general.
Lopez made a video in 2009 in support of the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine.
Peet went a bit further, saying parents who don’t vaccinate their children are “parasites.” She later retracted that statement and apologized, but she continues to be a strong advocate for vaccinations.