Donald Trump reportedly taps anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to lead a commission on vaccine safety

Trump, who has flirted with vaccine conspiracy theories, says "no decisions have been made" on vaccine panel

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published January 11, 2017 2:35PM (EST)

 (Chris Pizzello/invision/ap)
(Chris Pizzello/invision/ap)

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a leading proponent of the debunked conspiracy theory that vaccines are linked to autism, met with President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday — allegedly to discuss chairing a commission that will help spread his fringe beliefs.

"President-elect Trump has some doubts about the current vaccine policies and he has questions about it," Kennedy told the press on Tuesday. "He says 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."

Kennedy claimed that Trump had asked him to "chair a commission on vaccination safety and scientific integrity."

Trump's transition team has contradicted Kennedy's reports. While spokeswoman Hope Hicks confirmed to NBC News that the president-elect was "exploring the possibility of forming a committee on autism," she added that "no decisions have been made at this time."

The president-elect has been linked to the vaccine conspiracy theories in the past. During a presidential debate in 2015, he infamously claimed that "autism has become an epidemic. Twenty-five years ago, 35 years ago, you look at the statistics, not even close. It has gotten totally out of control."

The anti-vaccine movement is based on a bogus 1998 medical paper by British medical researcher Andrew Wakefield, which was later revealed to have been riddled with methodological flaws. Wakefield himself had a financial conflict of interest which compromised the integrity of his findings on the subject. No reputable scientific study has ever discovered a link between vaccines and autism.


By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

MORE FROM Matthew Rozsa

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Autism Donald Trump Robert Kennedy Jr. Vaccines