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Friday, January 20, 2017

The Person Taking the Oath Today

Many posts have discussed Trump's support for the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism.  (He also has a bad record on disability issues more generally.) The story that Trump might appoint anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to head a presidential commission -- whether on vaccines or autism -- has provoked widespread reactions.

John McQuaid writes at Scientific American:
A presidential panel could amplify fears. Such bodies are often appointed not only to develop policies or investigate problems but to mold public opinion, says Jordan Tama, an assistant professor with American University’s School of International Service, who has studied the history of presidential panels. They typically hold public hearings and issue official findings that command respect and get media attention. But this one’s different. “I can’t think of a past example of a president creating a commission on an issue where the agenda seemed to be so far out of the mainstream,” Tama says.
A vaccine–autism panel could put the authority of the White House behind false assertions, Tama adds. And there is evidence such an effort would find a receptive, already growing audience in some communities. A 2011 study by CDC scientists showed that whereas the overwhelming majority of parents reported vaccinating their children, 30 percent worried that such inoculations might cause learning disabilities including autism. Surveys of pediatricians, analyzed in Pediatrics, found the proportion of doctors reporting that parents had refused vaccines for their children increased from 74.5 percent in 2006 to 87 percent in 2013.
Antony Michels reports at Yahoo Finance:
Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove says he didn’t discuss vaccines with Donald Trump when the president-elect asked him to become secretary of the US Department of Veteran Affairs. Cosgrove turned down the job, as he did when President Barack Obama offered it to him following the resignation of Eric Shinseki in 2014.
When asked specifically about Trump’s tweets about vaccines and autism, Cosgrove said, “Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. But we are evidence-based, and we’re looking at the scientific evidence that’s out there. The scientific evidence is pretty clear that vaccinations are safe and they have been an enormous part of reducing the morbidity and the mortality [rates] across the United States.”
Cosgrove had to reiterate Cleveland Clinic’s support of vaccines this month after the publication of an article by the medical director of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute that questioned the safety of vaccines and mentioned autism. The director retracted the article, the Clinic said disciplinary action was taken and Cosgrove issued a statement rejecting the doctor’s views.
“There’s nothing to suggest that vaccinations are related to autism,” Cosgrove told Yahoo Finance. “Vaccines are one of the really great things that have happened in medicine. And now, [as] people stop vaccinating their children, we’re starting to see a resurgence of things like whopping cough. And I cannot say too strongly the importance of getting vaccines and vaccinating your children and the importance in terms of the public health.”