Donald Trump in talks with vaccine skeptic Robert F Kennedy to launch vaccination review
11th Jan 2017
US President-elect Donald Trump is looking into the possibility of forming a presidential panel to review vaccination safety and science, with vaccination sceptic Robert F Kennedy Jr being sounded out to oversee it.
- Both Donald Trump and Robert F Kennedy have previously raised questions about vaccine safety
- Kennedy insists he is pro-vaccine but wants them to be “as safe as they possibly can be”
- Trump has previously linked vaccines to autism
A study says @Autism is out of control–a 78% increase in 10 years. Stop giving monstrous combined vaccinations (cont) tl.gd/gnfk061:25 AM – 31 Mar 2012
Massive combined inoculations to small children is the cause for big increase in autism….5:22 AM – 24 Aug 2012
Autism rates through the roof–why doesn’t the Obama administration do something about doctor-inflicted autism. We lose nothing to try. 3:19 AM – 23 Oct 2012
Autism WAY UP – I believe in vaccinations but not massive, all at once, shots. Too much for small child to handle. Govt. should stop NOW! 10:36 AM – 28 Mar 2014
The potential appointment of Mr Kennedy — a son of the late US senator Robert F Kennedy and who has raised questions about the safety of vaccines — is likely to reignite debate despite now-debunked research that tied childhood immunisations to autism.
“President-elect Trump has some doubts about the current vaccine policy, and he has questions about it,” Mr Kennedy said following his meeting with Mr Trump in New York.
“He asked me to chair a commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity. I said I would.
“Everybody ought to be able to be assured that the vaccines that we have — he’s very pro-vaccine, as am I — but they’re as safe as they possibly can be.”
A Trump spokesperson said that while Mr Trump “enjoyed” his conversation with Mr Kennedy, he had not yet commissioned a panel.
“The president-elect is exploring the possibility of forming a commission on autism, which affects so many families; however no decisions have been made at this time,” said Hope Hicks.
Vaccine experts have decried the appointment of a vocal vaccine sceptic to explore the safety of vaccines and their purported link with autism, an association raised by a paper published in The Lancet in 1998 that claimed to find a connection between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism.
That paper has been debunked, and The Lancet withdrew the study. Since then, numerous studies have affirmed the safety of the vaccine, most recently including a study of 100,000 children considered at high risk of developing autism.
“The concerns of public health officials and paediatricians and family doctors regarding the Trump administration and its attitude toward vaccines have just been reinforced,” said Dr William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, who advises the federal panel that sets US vaccine policy.
Dr Schaffner said Mr Kennedy had “raised issues that have been settled securely and completely by good science, and 80,000 paediatricians, many family doctors and the World Health Organisation all reinforce the current recommended childhood immunisation schedule. They are safe and they are effective.”
Nevertheless, concerns have persisted over a possible link between vaccines and autism, a range of symptoms that often includes difficulties with communication and social interaction.
Daniel Johnson, an expert in paediatric infectious disease at University of Chicago Medicine, said he thought yet another investigation into vaccine safety was a waste of public money.
“There’s already many systems in place to provide oversight, to record data, which is constantly being reviewed by many in government and the scientific community,” Mr Johnson said.
“There is no need for still yet another system for doing this.”
He said he was “very concerned” that parents may delay getting their children vaccinated as they await the outcome of this panel, which could result in “increased harm, illness and potentially death” of children from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines.
Mr Trump has previously expressed scepticism about vaccines, having met with vaccination critics and has linked autism and immunisations on his Twitter account.