As Vermont lawmakers mull over the elimination of the state’s philosophical exemption for vaccines, a member of an American political dynasty is making a case for keeping them in place, arguing that the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) has become a complicit partner in the spread of lethal substances.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., son of the former U.S. senator, attorney general, and presidential candidate, told state lawmakers that while he supports vaccination policies, some of the vaccines contain thimerosol, a mercury-based compound that could harm children.
However, those assertions — particularly the 1998 paper that said a vaccine-autism link exsisted — have been debunked. The CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Institute of Medicine, say that no evidence supports the view of some that Thimerosol causes autism and other brain disorders. In the 1990s, the Food and Drug Administration recommended its removal from vaccines given to infants as a precautionary measure despite the release of a report that dispelled any notion that the substance was harmful.
Vaccines have been effective in the near-eradication of many infectious diseases — including smallpox, polio, hepatitis A, tetanus, and varicella. Last month, a group of public health organizations announced that rubella had been eliminated from the Americas after 15 years. This happened due to the availability of the shot that protects against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR).
During his testimony before the Vermont House Health Care Committee, Kennedy derided the CDC’s oversight process and said the agency has acted as a puppet of pharmaceutical companies, buckling under the pressure of highly influential pharmaceutical companies.
“You could design an epidemiological study that shows that cigarettes don’t cause cancer or sex didn’t cause pregnancy,” Kennedy said. “You just get rid of all the pregnant people or you get rid of all the people who have cancer and then you present your study,” he said. “That’s what CDC has been doing with these nine epidemiological studies that they point to.”
Despite their platform, anti-vaxxers don’t represent the sentiment of most Americans. A poll conducted by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital earlier this year showed that more than 80 percent of parents believed that all children in daycare should be up to date on vaccines. Anti-vaxxers faced scrutiny after a measles outbreak among people who visited Disneyland earlier this year affected nearly 200 people over the course of three months. A study later confirmed that those who were infected had vaccination rates well below the recommended threshold, putting thousands of people at risk with just one sneeze.