Trump Vaccine Commission Still a Go, says Kennedy

Alicia Ault

February 16, 2017

Robert F. Kennedy Jr, who believes the vaccine preservative thimerosal has led to an uptick in neurodevelopmental and other disorders in children, says the Trump administration still plans to assemble a vaccine safety commission to explore potential links between vaccinations and a host of disorders, including autism.

Kennedy, chairman of the World Mercury Project, a nonprofit group whose partners include groups that espouse a vaccine-autism link, told reporters attending a Washington, DC, press briefing that he is still in discussion with the administration regarding the assembling of a vaccine commission.

Kennedy said he was first approached by the Trump transition team in early December and met with President-elect Donald Trump in New York City in mid-January. He told the press he was being considered as chair of the potential commission, but that at that time, the administration said it was merely exploring the idea.

More recently, President Trump said he "knew that the pharmaceutical industry was going to cause an uproar about this," but he promised he would not back down, said Kennedy. "We need a debate on this," said Kennedy, who has campaigned against mercury in vaccines for at least a decade. "I don't see how anyone has a legitimate objection to having another set of eyes on the vaccine program," he said.

The more than $3 billion that the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has paid out is evidence of vaccines' potential for harms, he said.

The commission would be made up of "Americans with the highest integrity, people who had not taken any position on this issue," said Kennedy, adding that they would be assembled "just to look at the science."

In early February, more than 350 medical organizations wrote to Trump to express their "unequivocal support for the safety of vaccines," according to the letter, which included what it called a "non-exhaustive list of studies demonstrating the safety of vaccines."

Kennedy scoffed at that effort. "I don't think anybody actually read the studies," he said. He described himself as "pro-vaccine," but said he wanted safe vaccines.

He was accompanied by actor Robert De Niro, who has a son with autism and who came under fire in March 2016 when he proposed screening the film Vaxxed , directed by the discredited researcher Andrew Wakefield, at his Tribeca Film Festival.

De Niro withdrew the film after an uproar. De Niro said almost nothing at the briefing except that he agreed with Kennedy.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), physicians, journalists, and the pharmaceutical industry are involved in what Kennedy sees as a conspiracy to keep the truth about vaccine injury from the public.

Kennedy said reporters have merely parroted the CDC's claims over the years and have not bothered to examine the evidence. He said his organization had found 240 studies on PubMed that demonstrated that mercury was a neurotoxin. The vaccine preservative thimerosal, which contains trace amounts of ethyl mercury, was linked to autism in 81 of those studies, said Kennedy.

Currently, all routinely recommended vaccines for infants are thimerosal-free or contain only trace amounts of thimerosal, with the exception of inactivated influenza vaccine, according to the US Food and Drug Administration.

Inactivated influenza vaccine for children is available — but not widely — in formulations that contain no thimerosal or only trace amounts, said the agency.

In a press release, Kennedy said his organization would pay $100,000 to any journalist or other individual "who can find a peer-reviewed scientific study demonstrating that thimerosal is safe in the amounts contained in vaccines currently being administered to American children and pregnant women."

He also said the CDC should not be trusted, calling it "a vaccine company," and he accused its top decision makers of having ties to the pharmaceutical industry — an industry he said had undue influence over broadcast networks owing to the size of its advertising expenditures on those networks.

"What CDC says is not science. What your doctor says is not science. What the NIH [National Institutes of Health] says is not science. Science is what appears on PubMed," Kennedy said.

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