Town hall meeting with Governor Chris Christie in Middletown on Jan. 26, 2011

by Louise Kuo Habakus
    Leader New Jersey Coalition for Vaccination Choice 

On his Reform Agenda tour of the state of New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie held a town hall meeting at the VFW in Middletown on January 26, 2011.

As Governor Christie entered the room, I handed him a letter with a copy of my forthcoming book: Vaccine Epidemic: How Corporate Greed, Biased Science, and Coercive Government Threaten Our Human Rights, Our Health, and Our Children and shook his hand.

Middletown Town HallDuring the Q&A portion of the program, Governor Christie called on me. I made the following comments:

“Welcome to my hometown, Governor Christie.  You and I had a meeting in 2009 during your campaign when you told me, and the parents of NJ, that you support parental vaccination choice. It was a courageous and prescient stand, and we are grateful to you, because we know you are a man of your word.

I am glad to be here, to be reminded of your top priorities for the state of New Jersey. I want to tell you how vaccination choice directly addresses these three priorities:  1) fiscal discipline, 2) health (and pension) reform, 3) education reform.  New Jersey is the #1 vaccination state in the country. No state vaccinates more than we do.  Twenty states offer the philosophical exemption to mandatory vaccination, but NJ is not one of them.

Our bill, the Conscientious Exemption to Mandatory Immunization A2450, is moving in the legislature. It is being posted for a vote in the Assembly Ed Committee on Feb 10th and we welcome your support.  I’d like to meet with you in Trenton to talk about how you can help us.

I have written a book about the case for vaccination choice, which I just handed to you.  I ask that you please take a look at it.  As you know, our community is not anti-vaccine, we are pro choice. We support the right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children, and this must include the decisions that affect their health and well-being.”

Governor Christie responded with strength and support. He remembered my August 2008 meeting with him and his promise to the parents of New Jersey. He reiterated the statement that he made to Don Imus on the air that he does not think that parents who believe vaccines caused their children’s autism or other medical disorders should be forced to vaccinate their children. Governor Christie said that he wants to be sure we can support parents in this regard while also upholding our public health goals and offered that the materials I have shared with him have shown him that this can be done. He acknowledged that he is aware our bill is moving and he is keeping an eye on it. When the bill reaches his desk, Christie said, he will take a good, hard look at it. He concluded his comments to be by saying that he would read my book.


On behalf of the New Jersey Coalition for Vaccination Choice, I’d like to express my thanks to Governor Christie. During his campaign and now, he has offered perhaps the strongest public statement of support by the governor of any state for parental vaccination choice. While other politicians have also expressed support, Christie’s words are notable because vaccination legislation is made at the state level and must be signed into law by the governor of that state.