-- After a day of criticism over comments he made about vaccinations and mental disorders, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, tried to clarify his statement today and show his own comfort with vaccinations.
"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," Sen. Rand Paul said in a statement today.
In an interview with CNBC on Monday, Paul, an ophthalmologist, said, “I have heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines.”
“I’m not arguing vaccines are a bad idea. I think they’re a good thing, but I think the parents should have some input," he added. "The state doesn’t own your children. Parents own the children and it is an issue of freedom.”
In a separate interview with Laura Ingraham on Monday, he said vaccines "ought to be voluntary."
Paul is arguing his statement was mischaracterized in the press, and to prove he is pro-vaccines, he tweeted out a photo of himself as he received a booster vaccination for Hepatitis A this afternoon.
The New York Times accompanied Paul to his shot at the office of the Capitol physician where he further explained his comments.
“It just annoys me that I’m being characterized as someone who’s against vaccines,” Paul said, according to the New York Times.
“There’s 400 headlines now that say ‘Paul says vaccines cause mental disorders,'” he added. “That’s not what I said. I said I’ve heard of people who’ve had vaccines and they see a temporal association and they believe that.”
The New York Times noted Paul received the booster as a follow-up to a vaccine he received before traveling last year to Guatemala, where he performed pro-bono eye surgeries.
The debate over vaccinations has emerged as political hot topic over the past few days with potential presidential contenders, ranging from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., weighing in on whether children should be vaccinated.
“All children in America should be vaccinated,” Rubio told reporters following a hearing on Cuba on Tuesday.
“There is absolutely no medical science or data whatsoever that links those vaccinations to onset of autism or anything of that nature,” Rubio added. “By the way, if enough people are not vaccinated, you put at risk infants that are three months of age and younger and have not yet been vaccinated and you put at risk immune suppressed children who are not able to get those vaccinations."