Unfortunately, other Republican politicians and conservative media figures are increasingly joining up with the anti-vaxxers. Even before COVID, they were fighting vaccine mandates and other public health measures.
Former President Donald Trump vowed Monday to create a special presidential commission to investigate a “decadeslong increase in chronic illnesses” as some of his White House rivals run to his right on vaccine safety.
Trump blamed “Big Pharma,” the term members of both parties use to deride the world’s pharmaceutical giants, for the well-documented rise in the percentage of children and adults reporting chronic illnesses over the last several decades. His remarks were a dog whistle to vaccine-skeptical Republicans, who are more likely than Democrats to believe misinformation about vaccines and remain unvaccinated
“There has been an unexplained and alarming growth in the prevalence of chronic illnesses and health problems, especially in children,” Trump continued. “We’ve seen a stunning rise in autism, auto-immune disorders, obesity, infertility, serious allergies and respiratory challenges.”
It’s not a coincidence Trump mentions autism first: The false belief that vaccines cause autism is a cornerstone of anti-vaccine movements and conspiracy theories. In general, chronic medical conditions have many causes, but vaccines aren’t one of them.
Trump’s biggest rival for the GOP nomination, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, is hitting the former president for embracing the COVID vaccine in an attempt to siphon support from vaccine opponents.