Trump reportedly appoints vaccine sceptic to vaccination commission

  • 11/01/2017
vaccination donald trump kennedy
A child getting a vaccination (file)

Vaccination sceptic Robert F. Kennedy Jr. says he will chair a presidential panel to review vaccine safety and science at US President-elect Donald Trump's request.

"President-elect Trump has some doubts about the current vaccine policy, and he has questions about it," Mr Kennedy, who has raised questions about the safety of vaccines, told reporters after a meeting with Mr Trump in New York on Tuesday (local time).

"He asked me to chair a commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity. I said I would."

However, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks later told Reuters that, while the president-elect was exploring the possibility of forming a committee on autism, "no decisions have been made at this time."

Mr Kennedy, an environmentalist and lawyer, is the son of the late US Senator Robert F. Kennedy of New York and the nephew of assassinated Democratic President John F. Kennedy.

Vaccine experts decried the announcement by a vaccination sceptic that he would head a panel to explore the safety of vaccines and their purported link with autism.

The association was raised by a paper published in the British medical journal in The Lancet in 1998 that claimed to find a connection between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism.

That paper has been debunked, and The Lancet withdrew the study. Since then, numerous studies have affirmed the safety of the vaccine.

The American Academy of Pediatrics said vaccines are "the most significant medical innovation of our time," adding that claims that vaccines are linked to autism or are unsafe have been disproven "by a robust body of medical literature."

In addition to measles, mumps and rubella, vaccines protect children and adults against a wide variety of deadly or crippling diseases, including polio, typhoid, diphtheria and tetanus.

Dr William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University's medical school in Nashville, Tennessee, who advises the federal panel that sets US vaccine policy, said the Kennedy news reinforces the concerns of public health officials, paediatricians and family doctors.

Mr Schaffner said Mr Kennedy has "raised issues that have been settled securely and completely by good science."