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Monday, March 15, 2021

RFK Jr. Strikes Again

In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread  And among those diseases could be COVID-19.

Antivaxxers are sometimes violent, often abusive, and always wrong

Saranac Hale Spencer and Angelo Fichera at

Several vaccine falsehoods and misrepresentations have been strung together in a video aimed at discouraging Black people from getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

The hourlong video, called “Medical Racism: The New Apartheid,” is hosted by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s anti-vaccination organization, Children’s Health Defense. It includes mostly rehashed claims about vaccine safety framed to exploit distrust of the medical establishment in Black communities.


The video misrepresents a 2004 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that did not find an association between autism and measles, mumps and rubella vaccines.

The study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, looked at the age of children living in the Atlanta area when they received their first MMR vaccine and whether there was a correlation between the timing of the vaccine and a diagnosis of autism. If vaccines were contributing to autism, then one might expect to see more autism cases in kids who received the vaccine earlier, as we wrote about a similar claim.

The study did not find that vaccines were causing autism.

But Kennedy’s organization falsely claims that the “study discovered that African-American boys who receive the MMR vaccine ‘on-time’ by the age of 3 are 3.36 times more likely to be diagnosed with severe autism as Black boys who waited until they were older.”

That’s not what the study found. That’s what a purported reanalysis of the data claimed to find a decade later.

Brian Hooker — who has a degree in chemical engineering, not medicine, and has contributed articles to the Children’s Health Defense website — wrote the reanalysis for the journal Translational Neurodegeneration. But the paper was retracted just over a month after it was published.