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Rand Paul attempts to inoculate himself from vaccine controversy

Andrew Prokop is a senior politics correspondent at Vox, covering the White House, elections, and political scandals and investigations. He’s worked at Vox since the site’s launch in 2014, and before that, he worked as a research assistant at the New Yorker’s Washington, DC, bureau.

One day after making controversial remarks about vaccines, Sen. Rand Paul argued that his remarks were misreported — while bringing New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters to watch him get a booster shot.

Paul told Peters that he believed all children should be vaccinated. He said he believed "the science is clear that if you compare the risks of taking a vaccine to the ill effects of taking a vaccine, it's overwhelming."

As for Paul's Monday comment that he's heard stories of vaccinated children coming down with "profound mental disorders," he told Peters that he was merely referring to the beliefs of others: "I said I've heard of people who've had vaccines and they see a temporal association and they believe that." (Paul apparently did not, however, walk back his belief that most vaccines should be voluntary.)

As Zack Beauchamp wrote Tuesday morning, Paul's comments on vaccines put his likely presidential candidacy at risk — making him appear to flirt with a fringe and discredited position. He's clearly perceived the problem, and wants to show off to reporters that he's a pro-science, pro-public health candidate, in hopes of putting this controversy behind him. Read more about the latest political developments on vaccines here.