KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Trump Asks Vaccine Critic Robert F. Kennedy Jr. To Lead New Vaccination Safety Panel

Kennedy believes that there is a connection between autism and immunizations — a theory debunked by a majority of scientists. President-elect Donald Trump has also voiced such skepticism.

The Washington Post: Trump Asks Vaccine Skeptic Robert Kennedy Jr. To Lead Commission On ‘Vaccine Safety’
Donald Trump asked a proponent of a widely discredited theory that vaccines cause autism to chair a new commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity. The stunning move contradicts established science, medicine and the government’s position on the issue. It comes after Trump — who has long been critical of vaccines — met at Trump Tower with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has spearheaded efforts to roll back child vaccination laws. (Phillip and Sun, 1/10)

Stat: Vaccine Critic Kennedy Set To Chair Trump Panel On Vaccination Safety
Outspoken vaccine critic Robert Kennedy Jr. has accepted a position within Donald Trump’s administration as chair of a panel on vaccine safety and scientific integrity — the clearest sign yet of the president-elect’s suspicions about vaccines. The offer, which came in a Wednesday meeting between Trump and the scion of America’s most prominent Democratic family, is likely to concern scientists and public health experts who fear the incoming administration could give legitimacy to skeptics of childhood immunizations, despite a huge body of scientific research demonstrating that vaccines are safe. (Kaplan and Scott, 1/10)

USA Today: Trump Asks Vaccine Skeptic RFK Jr. To Lead Study On Vaccine Safety
President-elect Donald Trump asked Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental activist and skeptic of vaccines, to chair a presidential commission on vaccine safety, Kennedy said Tuesday. The two have questioned whether vaccines cause autism, a claim consistently debunked by medical professionals across the board. The commission will be designed "to make sure we have scientific integrity in the vaccine process for efficacy and safety effects," Kennedy told reporters after the meeting with Trump. (Jackson, 1/10)

The Hill: Trump Asks Vaccine Skeptic To Lead Commission On Vaccination Safety
Kennedy, 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." (Kamisar, 1/10)

The Atlantic: Trump Taps Vaccine Skeptic To Chair 'Committee On Vaccine Safety'
Trump’s transition team did not respond to a question asking for confirmation that the president-elect indeed offered Kennedy that position. But the prospect of a Kennedy-led vaccine commission is deeply troubling for proponents of evidence-based medicine. For over a decade now, Kennedy has been publicly saying not only that thimerosal, a preservative used in some vaccines, is dangerous and associated with autism, but that the government has been covering this up. (Beck, 1/10)

Politico: Vaccine Skeptic RFK Jr. Says He'll Chair Vaccine Commission For Trump
Kennedy and other vaccine skeptics have found a welcoming audience in Trump, who has repeatedly stated the belief that vaccines cause autism. “President-elect Trump has some doubts about the current vaccine policies and he has questions about it,” Kennedy said after his meeting, which he said Trump requested. It's one of several meetings that Trump has held with anti-vaccine leaders in recent months. (Allen, 1/10)

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