After meeting with President-Elect Trump today Robert F. Kennedy Jr. told reporters that “[Trump] asked me to chair a commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity.” He also clarified that Trump had called the meeting and he felt that the discussion went “very well.” There have been a number of people who have taken meetings with Trump since the November 8th election, but few have made statements to the press upon leaving, and none have provided details as to the priorities and policies the administration will pursue.
This stunning move flies in the face of nearly 50 years of research into early childhood vaccine safety and efficacy. It is extraordinarily concerning that the incoming administration not only seems intent on reopening a discussion that has been so definitively concluded, but by asking someone without a science background, and who has repeatedly ignored overwhelming scientific evidence to reopen that discussion.
What is most shocking about the committee that, per Kennedy, Trump intends to commission, is that it will be lead by someone without any semblance of an education or training in health and science. We already knew Donald Trump doesn’t understand medicine. To a certain extent that is fine, as no one elected to the highest office in the land has ever held a medical degree. But he has shown an inability to understand who to seek advice from by sourcing Kennedy.
During the republican primaries Trump parroted falsehoods that there is a relationship between autism and vaccines. There is no link between the two issues. There have been dozens of studies, involving a sum total of hundreds of thousands of children from across the world and no one has found a correlation between autism and vaccines. He added insult to injury by also repeating the falsehood that “autism has become an epidemic.” Not only is that untrue, it’s offensive to the millions of autistic individuals living rich lives and the families and friends who love them.
While the President of the United States has very little control over federal guidelines or state and local vaccine polices, this move serves only to further confuse and concern parents about protecting their children from dangerous diseases.
Regardless of your politics Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s appointment to a committee evaluating vaccines should be cause for concern. If you have questions about the safety and efficacy of vaccines we urge you to talk with your doctor. If this development concerns you, you can call your elected representatives and let them know.
Update 1.11.17 – According to Forbes, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks denies that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has been asked to chair a committee to investigate the safety and efficacy of vaccines. While the two did meet, the two men are claiming different outcomes of of the meeting.