Hillary Clinton Says All Kids Should Get Vaccinated—But She Wasn’t Always So Certain

Obama’s position has evolved too.


With measles cases in the United States at a 20-year high, some Republican presidential hopefuls have gotten heat for pandering to conservative voters who doubt extensive scientific evidence that vaccines don’t cause autism. With Chris Christie and Rand Paul making controversial comments on the issue, Hillary Clinton came out strongly Monday night on the side of science:

But in 2008—when a widespread theory linking vaccines to autism had already been debunked—Clinton wasn’t so definitive on this point. In response to a questionnaire from an autism advocacy group, she wrote, “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.”

Clinton has a long history of supporting efforts to get children vaccinated. In 1993, she spearheaded the Childhood Immunization Initiative and the Vaccines for Children program, which aimed to make vaccines affordable. Yet, she also has been a strong voice for families dealing with autism, calling in 2007 for $700 million per year to fund research and education. Her comments in 2008 reflected a certain tension to advocating on both fronts.

She also wasn’t the only prominent Democrat hedging about autism and vaccines during the 2008 election cycle: At a campaign rally in Pennsylvania that April, Barack Obama was asked about a link. “We’ve seen just a skyrocketing autism rate,” he replied. “Some people are suspicious that it’s connected to the vaccines…The science is right now inconclusive, but we have to research it.”

It used to be more politically difficult for Democrats to come out swinging against anti-vaxxers, a problem that now appears to be growing for Republicans. In 2009, 26 percent of Republicans and 27 percent of Democrats believed parents should be able to decide whether to vaccinate their kids. Now, according to a new Pew survey, 34 percent of Republicans and 22 percent of Democrats hold that view.

Obama’s position has evolved too: On Sunday, he urged parents to get their kids vaccinated. “There aren’t reasons not to,” he said.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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