Trump discussed a commission on vaccines and autism with a prominent anti-vaxxer

2 months, 23 days ago

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. talks with reporters in the hall of Trump Tower in New York, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017.
Image: AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

UPDATE: Jan. 10, 2017, 5:59 p.m. EST The Trump transition team walked back Robert F. Kennedy’s assertion that a vaccine commission is being formed, instead stating he is “exploring the possibility of forming a committee on Autism.”


President-elect Donald J. Trump has asked anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to chair the regional commissions on vaccine security, Kennedy said after meeting with Trump Tuesday.

This appointment is certain to rattle the scientific community, since Kennedy is a well-known anti-vaccine proponent who falsely believes that vaccine ingredients cause autism. This is a claim that scientists have debunked time and time again.

“President-elect Trump has some doubts about the present vaccine policies and he has the issue of it, ” Kennedy said after the meeting, according to a pool report.

For his part, Trump has publicly expressed his own concerns about vaccines and their link to autism, despite the absence of proof to support such a link.

A history of anti-vaccine rhetoric

Trump has a history of anti-vaccine rhetoric.

During the Republican primaries in 2015, for example, Trump said that he was in favor of inoculations but still expressed concerns about how they’re administered.

“I am totally in favor of vaccines, ” Trump said during a Sept. 16 debate. “But I want smaller doses over longer periods. Because you take a newborn in and I’ve insured it and I’ve insured it, and I had my children taken care of over a longer period, over a two or three year period of time.”

The idea that vaccines should be spaced out over years would actually render many of life-saving vaccinations ineffective, scientists have said.

In 2014, Trump tweeted about his autism and inoculation beliefs.

Trump’s relationship with the anti-vaccine motion doesn’t end with Kennedy, either.

Just before the election, Trump also met with Andrew Wakefield, whose now-debunked and recanted 1998 examine connecting vaccines to autism effectively sparked the anti-vaccine movement.

After meeting with Trump, Wakefield said that he found him “extremely interested, genuinely interested, and open-minded on this issue, so that was enormously refreshing, ” according to STAT News.

Wakefield’s license to practice medicine was rescinded by the General Medical Council in the United Kingdom in 2010 after it was found that he conducted unethical research.

Scientific consensus

According to the scientific community, inoculations do not cause autism.

A 2011 Institute of Medicine study looking at eight vaccines “found that with rare exceptions, these vaccines are very safe, ” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention( CDC ).

“A 2013 CDC examine added to the research showing that vaccines do not cause ASD[ autism spectrum disorder ], ” the CDC states on its website.

“The study looked at the number of antigens( substances in vaccines that cause the bodys immune system to render disease-fighting antibodies) from inoculations during the first two years of life. The outcomes showed that the total amount of antigen from vaccines received was the same between children with ASD and those that did not have ASD.”

At the moment, recommendations on inoculations and day are made by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group of scientists select through a “rigorous nomination process, ” according to STAT News. The committee’s vacancies are also staggered, STAT added, means that Trump cannot simply appoint a large number of anti-vaccine activists to the committee in one go.

Trump’s move to create a vaccine commission that may review federal inoculation guidelines and research is in keeping with other highly questionable scientific opinions he holds, such as falsely claiming that human-caused global warming is a hoax.

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