Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a potential Republican candidate for president next year, doesn't think American children should be required to have every vaccine that is available.
"I'm not anti-vaccine at all, but most of them ought to be voluntary," Paul said on Laura Ingraham's radio program Monday.
Ingraham asked Paul about his thoughts on vaccines, which occurs near the end of the 17-minute interview, after both President Barack Obama
and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
publicly commented on children getting vaccinated for measles. There is currently a measles outbreak in the United States that has exposed about 1,000 people.
Christie and the president both urged parents to get their children vaccinated for the disease.
Paul did not specifically mention the measles vaccine, but he thinks there are too many vaccines that offer parents a host of decisions when faced with giving them to their children.
"I think there are times in which there can be some rules, but for the most part it ought to be voluntary," said Paul, an ophthalmologist.
Paul was particularly "annoyed" when doctors wanted to vaccinate his children for Hepatitis B shortly after they were born.
"I was annoyed when my kids were born that they wanted them to take the Hepatitis B [vaccine] in the neonatal nursery," he told Ingraham. "That's a sexually transmitted disease or a blood-borne disease. And I didn't like them getting 10 vaccines at once. So I actually delayed my kids' vaccines and had them staggered over time."
The current measles outbreak marks the first time the disease has been reported in the U.S. in 15 years. It began in Disney's southern California amusement parks, and officials believe the first patient
was either someone not from the U.S. who carried it here, or a nonvaccinated American who contracted the disease beyond the country's borders.
Last week, Arizona's director of the Department of Health Services said the outbreak has reached "a critical point."
The outbreak has restarted the debate about which vaccines parents should give to their children. Measles is covered under the MMR vaccine, which stands for measles, mumps, rubella.
Arizona officials were particularly worried about the outbreak
because the Super Bowl was played in Glendale on Sunday.
In another Monday interview, this one with CNBC's Kelly Evans, Paul was confronted
about his comments about making many vaccines voluntary.
"I just have to begin by asking, did you really just say to Laura Ingraham that you think most vaccines in this country should be voluntary?" Evans said.
"Well, I guess being for freedom would be really unusual? I guess I don't understand the point why that would be controversial," Paul replied.
"Senator, maybe you're not aware, there's a huge problem right now with the Disney theme parks having to close down because of mumps," Evans said. "And not enough children being vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella because their parents, for whatever reason, have decided that it is voluntary. And I can tell you, plenty of the people who I work with are really concerned about their kids getting sick at school."
Paul replied: "Here's the thing, I think vaccines are one of the greatest medical breakthroughs that we have. I'm a big fan and a great fan of the history of the development of the smallpox vaccine, for example. But for most of our history, they have been voluntary. I don't think I'm arguing for anything out of the ordinary. We're arguing for what most of our history has had."
Later in the interview, Paul said, "I've heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines. I'm not arguing vaccines are a bad idea. I think they're a good thing. But I think the parents should have some input. The state doesn't own your children. Parents own the children. And it is an issue of freedom."
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