Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is regularly described by the media as “anti-vaccine,” but Kennedy says that neither he nor President Trump opposes vaccines. Robert Kennedy Jr. met with Trump recently and discussed vaccines. Kennedy was allegedly asked to head a commission on vaccination safety, as Inquisitr reported just after the meeting occurred. Trump’s transition team told CNN that no decision has actually been made about setting up a commission like one that Kennedy spoke of, but the transition team referred to it as an “autism commission.”
Trump has appointed noted vaccine critic Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to chair a commission on vaccine safety https://t.co/7JCIRtSXGB
— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) January 10, 2017
“The President-elect enjoyed his discussion with Robert Kennedy Jr. on a range of issues and appreciates his thoughts and ideas,” Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for Trump, said in a statement. “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. The President-elect looks forward to continuing the discussion about all aspects of Autism with many groups and individuals.”
“President-elect Trump has some doubts about the current vaccine policies and he has questions about it,” Kennedy said, adding that both he and Trump are “very pro-vaccine.” Kennedy says that he and Trump want to make sure that vaccines are “as safe as they possibly can be.”
“I think vaccines save lives. But we are also seeing an explosion in neurodevelopmental disorders and we ought to be able to do a cost-benefit analysis and see what’s causing them. We ought to have robust, transparent science and an independent regulatory agency. Nobody is trying to get rid of vaccines here. I just want safe vaccines,” Kennedy told Science.
Vaccine advocates are reportedly nervous about Kennedy having Trump’s ear on the vaccination issue. Investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson claimed last year that there is a “propaganda campaign typically falsely portrays anyone who addresses vaccine safety issues as ‘anti-vaccine.'” Trump told a CNN audience during the 2016 campaign season that he is for spacing out vaccinations and listed autism as a possible side effect of vaccination. Meanwhile, Robert Kennedy Jr. has lobbied Congress to give parents the right to exemptions from state vaccine mandates and wrote a book about mercury in vaccines.
Slate writer Susan Matthews says that Kennedy and Trump’s concerns over vaccine safety indicate that both men “reject the established science on vaccination.” Matthews says that, while Trump’s decision to vaccinate his own son on a delayed schedule is better than not vaccinating at all, it’s still dangerous.
“Delaying vaccination is not conservative—it’s ignoring the evidence,” Matthews wrote. “This mistrust of expertise fits right in with RFK Jr.’s vaccination theories, which are built around the blatantly false idea that vaccines are unsafe, and the more paranoid idea that there is a conspiracy to cover this up extends from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to elected officials to journalists.”
Other vaccine proponents agree with Matthews and claim that both Trump and Kennedy are anti-vaccine, no matter what they themselves say they are.
— Michael Boys (@MHBoys) January 20, 2017
Officially, CDC scientists state that autism is not a side effect of vaccination. Still, in 2007, Julie Gerberding, the former head of the CDC, appeared on CNN and stated that in a particular subset of the population with mitochondrial disorders, vaccines could trigger autism-like symptoms. Some parents have since questioned how they can determine if their children have these mitochondrial disorders before they sign a vaccine consent form indicating that they are aware of the risks of vaccination.
According to the CDC, the latest research indicates there is no link between autism and vaccines. Additionally, aside from autism, the CDC calls serious side effects, in general, very rare.
“The side effects associated with getting vaccines are almost always minor (such as redness and swelling where the shot was given) and go away within a few days. If your child experiences a reaction at the injection site, you can use a cool, wet cloth to reduce redness, soreness, and swelling.
“Serious side effects following vaccination, such as severe allergic reaction, are very rare and doctors and clinic staff are trained to deal with them. Pay extra attention to your child for a few days after vaccination. If you see something that concerns you, call your child’s doctor.”
President Trump will have the authority to appoint a new CDC chief without the approval of Congress, according to Politico. President Obama appointed Thomas Frieden, who was the former commissioner of the New York City Health Department.
[Featured Image by Rich Polk/Getty Images]