Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Vaccine Skeptic Considered to Lead Trump Vaccine Safety Commission

On Tuesday, President-Elect Donald Trump met with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a prominent anti-vaccine activist, regarding a possible commission on autism. The Trump transition team released the following statement after the meeting:

"The President-elect enjoyed his discussion with Robert Kennedy Jr. on a range of issues and appreciates his thoughts and ideas. 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."

Kennedy is known for lending his voice to the purported link between vaccines and autism, a link that is untenable based on existing scientific research and the CDC's official stance on the topic. After the meeting, Kennedy said, "President-elect Trump has some doubts about the current vaccine policies and he has questions about it. His opinion doesn't matter but the science does matter, and we ought to be reading the science, and we ought to be debating the science." Scientists widely agree that there is no causal link between vaccines and autism, and moreover that vaccines prevent fatal illnesses and protect the health of children and immunocompromised adults.

Since Trump brought the anti-vaccine movement into prominence during his campaign, more parents have reconsidered vaccinating their children, particularly the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. 2015 saw an outbreak of measles that started in California and spread to 12 states, largely infecting unvaccinated children and babies too young to be vaccinated. Even if the commission on autism is not formed, or Kennedy does not lead the commission, this meeting is a warning sign that the Trump administration may continue to influence public behavior in ways that go against public health or even just data.

The CDC continues to recommend vaccinating children with the MMR vaccine in order to protect them from these potentially life-threatening diseases, and to protect babies, the elderly, and the immunocompromised, who cannot get vaccinated and are most vulnerable to these diseases.

Richa Wadekar

Source: "Despite The Facts, Trump Once Again Embraces Vaccine Skeptics."

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