2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg flubbed a response to questions about vaccines, backpedaling from initially expressing support for some personal and religious exemptions.
BuzzFeed News asked all of the Democratic presidential candidates about their views on vaccines, amid the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week declaring the United States’ largest measles outbreak since the disease was eliminated in 2000, with more than 700 cases reported in 22 states.
“Pete does support some exceptions, except during a public health emergency to prevent an outbreak,” a spokesperson for the South Bend, Indiana, mayor said Tuesday in response to BuzzFeed News. “These exemptions include medical exemptions in all cases (as in cases where it is unsafe for the individual to get vaccinated), and personal/religious exemptions if states can maintain local herd immunity and there is no public health crisis.”
But early Wednesday, the spokesperson issued another statement to say that Buttigieg only supported medical exemptions.
“Pete believes vaccines are safe and effective and are necessary to maintaining public health,” the spokesperson said. “There is no evidence that vaccines are unsafe, and he believes children should be immunized to protect their health. He is aware that in most states the law provides for some kinds of exemptions. He believes only medical exemptions should be allowed.”
Most of the other Democratic candidates who responded to BuzzFeed’s questions said that they unequivocally supported vaccines, with rare medical exemptions. Some specifically noted support for eliminating personal or religious exemptions.
After previously peddling the false conspiracy that there is a link between vaccines and autism, President Donald Trump last week appeared to reverse course.
“They have to get the shots,” he said Friday when asked about the measles outbreak. “The vaccinations are so important. This is really going around now. They have to get their shots.”