Jill Stein On Vaccines: Anti-Vaxxer Or Smear Campaign Victim?

Zachary Volkert

Following her post-DNC rise in the polls, Jill Stein has been called an anti-vaxxer by a vocal portion of the media. Several editorials claimed that the Green Party candidate uses veiled language to characterize vaccines as "unsafe" or even "scary" in order to pander to her voters.

Many of those critics pointed to a Reddit AMA in June where Jill answered questions about her platform. At that time, Stein expressed "skepticism" about the United States' current vaccine scheduling, saying that in other parts of the world, people had more faith in public health institutions because of a lack of corporate influence.

"In the US, however, regulatory agencies are routinely packed with corporate lobbyists and CEOs. So the foxes are guarding the chicken coop as usual in the US. So who wouldn't be skeptical? I think dropping vaccinations rates that can and must be fixed in order to get at the vaccination issue: the widespread distrust of the medical-industrial complex."

Within the same AMA, Jill clarifies that both personally and as a physician, she sees the inherent benefits of vaccines. Distancing herself from all-out anti-vaxxers, Stein notes the essential role that the controversial injections play in public health. She characterizes her skepticism as one of the industry surrounding vaccines and not the product itself.

"Vaccines should be treated like any medical procedure--each one needs to be tested and regulated by parties that do not have a financial interest in them... We need to take the corporate influence out of government so people will trust our health authorities, and the rest of the government for that matter. End the revolving door. Appoint qualified professionals without a financial interest in the product being regulated."

As the Washington Post pointed out, such an independent board composed of academics and doctors does exist -- the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee.

"Jill's warning about corporate influence in the vaccine approval process is often voiced by 'anti-vaxxers' In reality, most members... work at academic or medical institutions, not drug companies. But for Stein, the fact that people saw corporate and lobbying influence running rampant meant that some skepticism was warranted."

It's because of these statements that some see Jill as an ally to the anti-vax movement. As studies have failed to conclusively link vaccines and autism, even some of the most famous objectors, like Jenny McCarthy, are echoing Stein's comments: Vaccines are essential but unfairly influenced by shadowy corporate greed.

Because these so-called coded messages have become common, anything other than an outright condemnation of anti-vaxxers is unlikely to silence those linking Jill to the cause. The candidate herself, however, has continued to clarify her stance on Twitter. In fact, Stein has re-posted her official position on vaccines several times this week.

— Dr. Jill Stein (@DrJillStein) 3 de agosto de 2016

— Dr. Jill Stein (@DrJillStein) 1 de agosto de 2016

— Dr. Jill Stein (@DrJillStein) 31 de julio de 2016

— Dr. Jill Stein (@DrJillStein) 31 de julio de 2016

[Image via Win McNamee/Getty Images]