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Vaccine Skeptic RFK Jr Says He's Chairing Trump's 'Vaccine Safety' Commission

Like Trump, the environmental activist has floated the widely debunked claim that vaccines are linked to autism.

by Lauren Messman
11 January 2017, 3:32am

Screenshot via CNN

On Tuesday, Donald Trump called a meeting with environmental activist Robert F Kennedy Jr to allegedly discuss placing him on a new commission regarding vaccine policies, a position that Kennedy says he accepted, the Washington Post reports.

"President-elect Trump has some doubts about the current vaccine policies, and he has questions about it," Kennedy told reporters in the Trump Tower lobby. "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. And that everybody ought to be able to be assured that the vaccines that we have—he's very pro-vaccine, as am I—but they're as safe as they possibly can be."

The president-elect shared his views on vaccines during the campaign, most notably during one Republican presidential debate, where he tossed out the widely discredited theory that vaccines are linked to autism.

"We had so many instances, people that work for me, just the other day, two years old, 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 during the debate in 2015.

Like Trump, Kennedy has also been an outspoken skeptic of vaccines, particularly of the component thimerosal, which he has said can cause autism—something the CDC says there is no evidence of and a fringe theory medical professionals see as a threat to public health. According to CBS News, Kennedy even wrote a book on and promoted a film about this claim called Trace Amounts.

"They get the shot, that night they have a fever of a 103, they go to sleep, and three months later, their brain is gone," Kennedy said during a 2015 promotional appearance for the film in Sacramento. "This is a holocaust, what this is doing to our country."

No one from Trump's transition team has commented on the possible appointment, and it's not 100 percent clear what a "vaccination safety and scientific integrity" commission would or could do, but Kennedy has worked in the past to lobby Congress to roll back child vaccination laws, CNN reports. According to the World Health Organisation, vaccines prevent 6 million deaths worldwide each year, so there's that.

Update: According to reporter Maggie Haberman of the New York Times, the Trump transition team released a statement after the President-elect's meeting with Kennedy, saying, "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 committee 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."