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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Trump and the Antivax Movement

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the issue's role in presidential campaigns.   In this campaign, a number of posts discussed Trump's support for the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism.  He also has a bad record on disability issues more generally.

Previous posts have discussed Trump's meeting with antivaccine activists.

Zack Kopplin writes at Science:
Trump is no stranger to the anti-vaccine movement. He has suggested in interviews, tweets and during debates that he sees some link between childhood vaccinations and autism, despite the lack of any scientific evidence supporting such a link. (The U.S. Institute of Medicine concluded in a 2014 report that there is no link, adding that the current vaccine schedule for children should be left as it is.) “Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn't feel good and changes - AUTISM,” Trump tweetedin 2014. “Many such cases!”
As president, Trump will have the authority to appoint a number of influential public health officials, including the surgeon general, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the head of the Food and Drug Administration. It is not clear how any views he holds on vaccination might influence his appointments or administration policies.
Wakefield, who was barred from practicing medicine in the United Kingdom after authorities concluded he had committed “professional misconduct” and now lives in Austin, did not respond to a request for comment.
Elissa Strauss writes at Slate:
The fact that this conversation happened doesn’t necessarily mean that Trump is more focused on vaccine intervention than previously thought. It was at a donor event, an instance when a candidate is inclined to make all those who bought a ticket feel listened to and appreciated. But, as with so many things Trump, the absence of clearly articulated proposals and policy positions creates a lacuna in which anti-scientific ideas—along with racist, antisemitic, and misogynistic ones—can thrive. People who both think they share his ideas and have thoroughly considered policy positions to back them up are now well-positioned to amass support and feel ennobled to push harder for change.

While the federal government currently has little involvement in vaccination mandates, which are largely determined on a state-by-state basis, Trump and many of his supporters' anti-science fervor could still lead to troubling outcomes. Such possibilities include Trump’s appointing of a vaccine skeptic or anti-vaxxer to the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, or Food and Drug Administration. Such a decision would not only be bad news for vaccine research, but also for our longstanding commitment to empirical evidence as the foundation for public health recommendations.
Eric Garcia writes at Roll Call:
“Trump’s mockery of the reporter Serge Kovaleski is just the tip of the ableist iceberg,” said Alice Wong, founder and project coordinator for the Disability Visibility Project.

Trump also espoused language hinting that vaccines cause autism, writing on Twitter that doctors should give smaller doses of vaccines even though the medical community has long debunked the link between vaccines and autism.
Trump even promoted anti-vaccine theories during the second Republican primary debate, saying that autism has become “an epidemic.”
“Any president who doesn’t believe in science is dangerous — I am concerned about funding for public health, medical and scientific research that will impact all people,” Wong said in an email.
Ari Ne’eman, president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, also expressed alarm at Trump’s comments.“These comments by the president-elect are profoundly unfortunate,” he said. “They betray a fundamental ignorance.”