Vaccinations and parental choice became a minor campaign issue in last year’s gubernatorial race between Republican Kevin Stitt, Democrat Drew Edmondson and Libertarian Chris Powell.

A story in the online news site, The Daily Beast, quoted Stitt from a videotaped February 2018 forum sponsored by the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee.

“So under vaccines, I believe in choice,” Stitt said. “And we’ve got six children, and we don’t vaccinate, we don’t do vaccinations on all of our children. So we definitely pick and choose which ones we do. It’s got to be up to the parents. We can never mandate that. I think there’s legislation that would mandate that to go to public schools – that’s absolutely wrong. My wife was homeschooled, I went to public schools, our kids go to a Christian school. And that’s back to a parent’s choice.”

The Stitt campaign later released a fact check on vaccine policy saying Stitt and Edmondson agreed on the issue.

“They both have given all their children various vaccinations required for school and recommended by doctors,” the fact check said. “They both do not support changing current state law on mandated vaccines. They both believe these decisions should be made by the parent in consultation with doctors.”

The Tulsa-area private school that Stitt’s children have attended reported the highest rate of vaccine exemptions for kindergarteners in the state, at 24%, according to 2017-18 survey data from the state health department. The statewide rate was 2.2%, although many private schools declined to report.

In a statement, Stitt’s office said the budget for the upcoming fiscal year includes an extra $1.5 million in state health department funding for immunizations. Spokeswoman Donelle Harder said the Stitts did not request any vaccination exemptions for their six children.

“The Governor and First Lady’s children have received vaccinations required by school and recommended by their family doctor,” the statement said. “The Stitts believe this is a serious public health issue and a decision parents should make in consultation with their family doctor.”

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