Republican Ben Carson said on Tuesday vaccinations should be mandatory, with no religious or philosophical exemptions, and schools should check to make sure children have received them.
“We already have policies in place at schools that require immunization records and things of that nature,” the conservative neurosurgeon, who is weighing a 2016 run for president, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead.”
“A lot of people are put off when they hear the word ‘government force,’ and perhaps there’s a better way to put these things,” Carson said. “But the fact of the matter is, studies have shown us over the course of time that the benefit-to-risk ratio for vaccination is way in the favor of doing it as opposed to not doing it.”
Carson also defended a potential 2016 Republican primary opponent, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who set off controversy when he told CNBC on Monday that he’s heard of cases in which vaccinations are linked to “profound mental disorders,” even as he praised vaccinations generally. Paul said parents should have some choice in whether and when their children receive vaccinations.
Carson said Paul’s comments are “not exactly being portrayed the way he meant it.”
“You know, if you were to talk to him, I’m sure he would tell you that vaccines are very, very important and have made a tremendous difference in our society,” Carson said. “He’s simply saying we don’t want to be forced.”
On Tuesday, Paul clarified his comments.
“I did not say vaccines caused disorders, just that they were temporally related – I did not allege causation. I support vaccines, I receive them myself and I had all of my children vaccinated,” Paul said. “In fact today, I received the booster shot for the vaccines I got when I went to Guatemala last year.”