GOP doctor: Vaccine debate ‘inappropriate’ for 2016 hopefuls

Rep. Michael BurgessMichael Clifton BurgessOvernight Health Care: Trump officials move to expand non-ObamaCare plans | GOP fails to block DC individual mandate | Ebola returns to Congo Republican chairman wants FTC to review mergers of drug price negotiators Overnight Health Care: Official defends suspending insurer payments | What Kavanaugh's nomination means for ObamaCare | Panel approves bill to halt employer mandate MORE (R-Texas) on Tuesday called several of his Republican colleagues eyeing presidential runs to task for stirring a national debate this week on vaccinations following the recent measles outbreak.

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“If this is suddenly injected into presidential politics, then it is inappropriate,” said Burgess, a longtime obstetrician who has personally battled the measles.

Burgess’s remarks on the measles came during a panel on flu vaccines by a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, during which the Texas Republican stressed that there has not been a federal mandate for vaccinations “since President Gerald Ford.”

“These are state-mandated vaccines that people have to take before attending public schools, and there’s a reason for that,” he said. “There’s no one asking for a federal mandate. That doesn’t mean the vaccination is not important.”

The measles outbreak became a theme of the House hearing Tuesday after a pair of possible GOP presidential candidates — Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — said that parents should have a choice on vaccination.

In a controversial interview Monday, Paul said that he had heard of vaccinated children "who wound up with profound mental disorders" — a claim raised by a Democratic lawmaker at the hearing.

Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) read the comments — citing a U.S. senator but not naming Paul — and asked the witnesses if there was any shred of evidence that it was true.

The four witnesses, which included Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, all said the comments were not backed by science.