While most of the nation’s eyes were glued on Sen. Jeff Session’s (R-AL) attorney general confirmation hearing on Tuesday, President-elect Donald Trump invited Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. to stop by his office to discuss “vaccines and immunizations.”
Kennedy just happens to be an outspoken proponent of the debunked claim that there is a link between vaccines and autism.
Trump is meeting with RFK Jr, a known vaccine-autism conspiracy theorist, on "vaccines and immunizations"
— Foppish Vox Hipster (@dylanmatt) January 10, 2017
Though the only study to ever even suggest a connection between the vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) and autism has been massively and certifiably discredited, the belief that there is a link lives on as a conspiracy theory. Kennedy peddles that belief, such as in 2015 when he testified to the Vermont House Health Care Committee that pharmaceutical companies are pressuring the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) to bury evidence of an vaccine-autism connection.
“You could design an epidemiological study that shows that cigarettes don’t cause cancer or sex didn’t cause pregnancy,” he said. “You just get rid of all the pregnant people or you get rid of all the people who have cancer and then you present your study. That’s what CDC has been doing with these nine epidemiological studies that they point to.”
Kennedy maintains a “manifesto” on his website in which he argues that Big Pharma and the press “bully, pillory, and demonize vaccine safety advocates as ‘anti-vax,’ ‘anti-science,’ and far worse.” He insists that parents are still being forced to inject their children “with potentially risky vaccines.”
Trump himself also believes that there’s a connection between vaccines and autism. Some have called him a “slow-vaxxer” instead of a pure anti-vaxxer because he supports vaccines, but believes children receive too many vaccines too early in life.
Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn't feel good and changes – AUTISM. Many such cases!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2014
No more massive injections. Tiny children are not horses—one vaccine at a time, over time.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2014
I'm not against vaccinations for your children, I'm against them in 1 massive dose.Spread them out over a period of time & autism will drop!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 4, 2014
Nevertheless, anti-vaxxers see an ally in Trump. Andrew Wakefield, who conducted the discredited and since-retracted study that fuels the conspiracy theory and who still serves as a prominent leader in that movement, praised Trump back in November because he “is not beholden to the pharmaceutical industry.”
UPDATE: Following the meeting, Kennedy said that Trump asked him to chair a committee on “vaccine safety and scientific integrity.” Trump apparently has “some doubts” about current vaccine policies and the science behind them.
RFK Jr says Trump asked him to chair vaccine commission: "President-elect Trump has some doubts about—about the current vaccine policies…" pic.twitter.com/VnCdSueuGI
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) January 10, 2017