(CN) – Robert F. Kennedy Jr., long a vocal vaccination skeptic, announced Tuesday that President-elect Donald Trump has asked him to chair a commission on vaccine safety.
Trump has in the past also voiced doubts about vaccinations, both in tweets and while on the campaign trail.
He once tweeted that he knew a child who developed autism after receiving immunizations, and in 2014 he tweeted “If I were President I would push for proper vaccinations but would not allow one time massive shots that a small child cannot take – AUTISM.”
He revisited the subject during a September 2015 GOP presidential candidate debate when in citing the discredited link between vaccines and autism, he said, “you take this little beautiful baby, and you pump — I mean, it looks just like it’s meant for a horse, not for a child.”
As is often the case with his tweets and public statements, Trump did not supply evidence to support that claim.
Scientists have debunked the link between vaccines and autism, but that has not convinced Kennedy who has spoken out for parents’ right to be allowed to opt out of vaccinations for their children.
Leaving Trump Tower on Tuesday, Kennedy said, “President-elect Trump has some doubts about the current vaccine policies and he has questions about it.His opinion doesn’t matter but the science does matter and we ought to be reading the science and we ought to be debating the science.”
“Everybody ought to be able to be assured that the vaccines that we have, he’s very pro-vaccine, as am I, are as safe as they possibly can be,” Kennedy told reporters gathered in the lobby of the midtown high rise.
The Center for Inquiry, an organization that says it advocates for science-based medicine and against medical pseudoscience, blasted Trump’s decision, calling Kennedy’s appointment “the the height of absurdity.”
“Kennedy is a man whose leadership of the anti-vaccine movement has spawned torrents of misinformation and pseudoscience about vaccines and their effects, and led directly to outbreaks of otherwise preventable infectious diseases,” the organization said in a written statement.
This stance has hurt children and the elderly, and caused great harm to public health, the center said/
“We call upon the President-elect to rely on evidence, facts, and the counsel of actual scientists and physicians, and to rescind any invitation he has extended to Mr. Kennedy,” the group said.