Trump taps anti-vaccine activist to chair vaccine safety panel
13 January 2017
Outspoken vaccine critic Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. said he had accepted an offer by the Trump administration to chair a panel on “vaccine safety and scientific integrity” after his meeting on Tuesday with the president-elect.
Kennedy, the son of Senator Robert Kennedy, has for the past decade promoted the debunked claim that vaccinations are linked to autism. He recently referred to the purported harms from vaccines as a “holocaust” in a 2015 email exchange with a Newsweek reporter, and in comments made at the screening of an anti-vaccination film.
“President-elect Trump has some doubts about the current vaccine policies, and he has questions about it,” Kennedy told reporters after the meeting.
Facing immediate and widespread criticism over the announcement, the Trump team appeared to backtrack with transition spokeswoman Hope Hicks saying in a statement later that day that Trump was only “exploring the possibility of forming a commission on autism” and that “no decisions have been made at this time.”
Trump promoted the false claim that there is a link between vaccinations and childhood autism in several comments made during his campaign.
“Just the other day, 2-years-old, 2½-years-old, a child, a beautiful child went to have the vaccine, and came back, and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic,” Trump said at a 2015 Republican debate.
Trump’s commission on vaccines and autism, especially if headed by Kennedy, will inevitably come to conclusions at odds with the scientific consensus within the medical community and threaten public health and safety.
“That’s very frightening; it is difficult to imagine anyone less…