In Louisiana, Rosemary Westwood at WWNO-FM:
Anti-vaccine misinformation gained a stark new foothold in state politics at a recent hearing of the House Health and Welfare Committee, when Attorney General Jeff Landry brought Robert F. Kennedy Jr., one the country’s most famous anti-vaccine activists who has been discredited for spreading misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines and other shots.
The hearing was centered around the Louisiana Department of Health’s plan to include COVID-19 vaccines fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the regular schedule of childhood vaccinations required for schools, though state law allows broad exemptions on religious, medical or philosophical grounds.
The presentation encapsulated how anti-vaccine activists raise objections and concerns whether there’s any basis for them or not, he said.
[Louisiana State Health Officer Dr. Joseph] Kanter — who was called upon to testify nearly two hours into the meeting — said it was particularly concerning that Kennedy was given “center stage.” He said Kennedy’s presentation “cherry picked” data to give the appearance it was factual.
“If you look at this individual, and his track record, he has done the exact same thing for countless vaccines. He has been at the center of pieces of myths and misinformation on other vaccines that have really caused families harm,” Kanter said.
Kennedy is the founder of Children’s Health Defense, a group that promotes disinformation about vaccines and their ties to autism, among other things — claims vigorously rejected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Autism Society of America, which states bluntly that “there has never been any credible scientific or medical evidence linking vaccinations with autism.”
During the committee hearing, the slides from Kennedy’s presentation were tweeted out by Health Freedom Louisiana. The private organization is the leading state-level organization fighting COVID-19 vaccine mandates and public health measures, including masks requirements.