In Reversal, Gov. Gary Johnson Now Supports Mandatory Vaccination

Aug 24, 2016

Libertarian presidential candidate and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson is newly in favor of mandatory vaccination, he says, after learning more about the science of immunization.

In 2011, Johnson tweeted “No to mandatory vaccines,”  but asked in an interview with VPR Wednesday about his position, Johnson said he now believes that vaccinations should be mandatory.

“You know, since I’ve said that … I’ve come to find out that without mandatory vaccines, the vaccines that would in fact be issued would not be effective,” he said. “So … it’s dependent that you have mandatory vaccines so that every child is immune. Otherwise, not all children will be immune even though they receive a vaccine.”

Johnson said he believes vaccination policy should be handled at the local level.

“In my opinion, this is a local issue. If it ends up to be a federal issue, I would come down on the side of science and I would probably require that vaccine,” he said.

Johnson said his position changed recently.

“It’s an evolution actually just in the last few months, just in the last month or so,” he said. “I was under the belief that … ‘Why require a vaccine? If I don’t want my child to have a vaccine and you want yours to, let yours have the vaccine and they’ll be immune.’ Well, it turns out that that’s not the case, and it may sound terribly uninformed on my part, but I didn’t realize that.”

Johnson was referring to the concept of “herd immunity,” also known as community immunity.

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president, has spoken in support of mandating vaccination.

Not all presidential candidates support mandatory vaccination. Green Party nominee Jill Stein has reportedly said there are "questions that need to be addressed" about the health effects of vaccines. Republican nominee Donald Trump has made the false claim on Twitter that vaccines have in “many” cases caused autism.

In the VPR interview, Johnson also said local communities (like Rutland) should be allowed to decide whether or not they wish to welcome refugees. In general, Johnson has said he supports welcoming refugees to the United States.

In addition, Johnson said he believes the government should be involved in environmental regulation.

Update August 25 12:12 p.m. This post was updated with audio of Johnson's responses, and edited to clarify that the comments were made in an interview with VPR.

Update August 25 4 p.m. Due to violations of VPR's comments policy by a number of users on this post, comments are now closed.