Via Forbes.com: Ebola, Measles And Chris Christie's Inconsistent Healthcare Beliefs. Excerpt and then a comment:
New Jersey Governor and likely presidential candidate Chris Christie is responsible for the current measles outbreak in the United States. Well that is a bit of a stretch – but not by much. The Governor just can’t figure out where he stands in balancing the public good against individual rights.
When Ebola reached his state last October in the form of Kaci Hickox, a nurse who had treated Ebola patients in West Africa, Christie ordered her held in a plastic tent near Newark with no running water, reliable heat or any other amenities. Hickox had no symptoms. She knew she was not infectious. She said she did not want to be quarantined in inhumane circumstances like a criminal.
Christie did not budge. “I have no reason to talk to her,” he said. “… I understand that she didn’t want to be there. She made that very clear from the beginning but my obligation is to all the people of New Jersey and we’re just going to continue to do that.”
She hired a lawyer, told Christie to take a hike, rented a car, broke her quarantine and fled to Maine. Christie was unrepentant even though his quarantine order made no sense since the public was never at risk. The rationale for quarantine Christie invoked was eventually deemed illegal by a judge in Maine because it did not rest on scientific evidence.
Now Christie is taking on the measles. He is not doing any better with that virus.
The governor waded into the vaccination debate yesterday during a visit to the United Kingdom, telling reporters he believes the U.S. government must “balance” public health interests with parental choice. Christie said parents should have “some measure of choice” about immunizing their children from measles and other viruses and diseases. So when it comes to the measles, unlike Ebola, the Governor says personal choice trumps the public good.
Subsequently, after his staff realized that it was just this unscientific and irresponsible attitude toward vaccination that has led to a measles outbreak across the United States, he tried to walk those comments back. He now says he wants “balance” on the measles vaccine debate to allow for parental choice.
So, faced with Ebola, Christie said the public health comes first and locked up someone who posed no threat. Now, faced with the measles, Christie says he cares about individual rights – the public health, not so much.
From time to time I award the Supari Prize to some distinguished politician or bureaucrat who has posed an exciting challenge to public health. The prize is named for Sidi Fatilah Supari, Indonesia's former health minister, who withheld H5N1 samples and reports for months on purely political grounds.