Skeptical Tuesdays: An Open Letter to Governor Chris Christie | Vol. 2 / No. 14.1

The measles, in case you've never seen it (you might soon); Photo: Flickr user Dave Haygarth, CC BY 2.0
The measles, in case you’ve never seen it (you might soon); Photo: Flickr user Dave Haygarth, CC BY 2.0

This week I get ranty about Governor Chris Christie playing politics instead of giving vaccines the full political push they apparently need in America.


Dear Governor Christie,

If you’ve never seen a child with the measles, look at the photo above. If you live in the US, you actually stand a pretty good chance of never having seen a child with the measles, because in the year 2003 we pretty much beat it. We won. There were something like 105 cases in six countries. And now, as I’m sure you know, it’s back. Thanks to lax regulations on child vaccinations, a recent outbreak at Disneyland in California has spread across the country. There were 102 cases of measles in the US in January alone.

Before you wonder “how could this happen, we have an easy, effective, and safe vaccine” I’ll stop you, because you already know. Jenny McCarthy and her roving bands of luddites have decided that they know more about vaccines than doctors. That’s the long and short of it.

Vaccines do not cause autism.

Vaccines do not contain toxins.

Vaccines are safe.

No, you cannot build up a natural immunity to the measles without contracting the measles, and even if you do it’s no better than getting the shot.

No, not everyone can have the vaccine, and a single dose is only 95% effective, so herd immunity is important.

No, herd immunity is not a myth.

Yes, your child should have the vaccine.

But for some reason, Governor, you can’t quite bring yourself to be unequivocal.


The interviewer can’t seem to get you to say the soundbite we all desperately need everyone in office to come out and say: not only do vaccinate my children, but everyone else should too.

I don’t know why this is such a challenge. There are no downsides to mandatory vaccination. There is no need to balance the ungrounded fears of an ignorant segment of society against the very real health concerns that are proven by science and reason and medicine to exist. No child should have to go to school with children who are not vaccinated. Not in this country. Not in this century.

So out with it, Governor: quit playing politics and say what needs to be said.