Vaccine Skeptic Says He’s Been Asked to Lead Trump Vaccine Commission
President-elect Donald Trump asked Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Tuesday, a vaccine skeptic, to lead the commission on vaccine safety.
The Hill reports:
Kennedy told reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan about the forthcoming position after a meeting with the president-elect.
“He asked me to chair a commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity … I said I would,” he 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.”
He added that Trump called him to request the meeting and that he wants to ensure that vaccines are “as safe as they possibly can be.”
In a statement released late Tuesday afternoon, though, Trump’s transition disputed that any decisions had been made about a potential commission.
“The President-elect is exploring the possibility of forming a committee on Autism, which affects so many families; however no decisions have been made at this time,” the statement reads.
Kennedy, the son of the famous attorney general and nephew of former President John F. Kennedy, is a vocal critic of vaccines and regularly expresses concerns that certain preservatives in vaccines could cause developmental disorders or other negative side effects.
He told a Sacramento audience in 2015 that drug companies can “put anything they want in that vaccine and they have no accountability for it.” Later that night, he also floated a connection between vaccines and autism, while calling the effects of vaccines a “holocaust.”
Scientists have repeatedly shot down any accusations about a link between vaccines and developmental disorders like autism, noting that there are various safeguards to ensure vaccines aren’t dangerous. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes there is “no link” between autism and vaccines, and points to a number of studies that back up that assertion.
Yet the belief persists on the fringes of both the political left and right, boosted by some prominent celebrities.
As Kennedy suggested, Trump has repeatedly entertained a link between vaccines and autism, sharing a story in 2014 about a “healthy young child” developing autism after vaccinations.
He went on to clarify his stance during a September 2015 GOP primary debate, where he said that he is “totally in favor of vaccines … in smaller doses over a long period of time.” But he did note that autism is an “epidemic” and retold another story of a toddler allegedly developing autism after being vaccinated.
White House spokesman Earnest declined to comment on the commission but said there is “not any scientific ambiguity” about vaccination.
“The scientific advice that has been consistently offered by government and non-government scientists alike is that parents should have their children vaccinated,” he told reporters aboard Air Force One.
“I don’t want to speak in a whole lot of detail about the incoming administration’s plans because I don’t know a whole lot about them.”
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