Skepticism isn't a bad thing. In fact, I believe it's good for science -- at its root, ultimately and ideally, is curiosity. So as this news spreads let's remember the facts:
Robert Kennedy Jr. himself, said:
“I’m pro-vaccine. I’ve had all six of my kids vaccinated.”
Most headlines today seem to have it incorrect if we are to believe Robert Kennedy's own words that he is NOT anti-vaccine. Personally, I believe this mischaracterization could be harmful at worst and deeply confusing to the conversation, at best.
To correctly characterize RFK's stance (which I believe Is important and worth the time to do to help those on the fence avoid being guided by misinformation) he is a pro-vaccine skeptic who has issue with CDC integrity....
Short summary (if I understand correctly) - RFK specifically has issue with the CDC's science (research) and has concerns only about the recommended schedule and the ingredients of vaccines. It is worth keeping in the front of our collective minds that RFK Jr. truly believes vaccines are important and that they save lives.
His pro-vaccine stance is modified by this statement: “I think we ought to have state and federal policies that maximize vaccine coverage of the population. But I think we have to begin the process by making sure the vaccines are safe, efficacious and that the regulatory agency which recommends vaccines … and monitors them has integrity and credibility, and, unfortunately, that is not the case at the moment.”
(Essentially, from what I understand, RFK Jr believes the CDC is potentially corrupt and not producing good science due to conflict of interest. There's a lot to unpack there but I'm gonna leave it at that.)
So, RFK Jr. finds that all the scientific studies by the CDC (he mentions nothing else about vaccine safety studies elsewhere) do no live up to his standards. As I see it, with RFK Jr. being a prominent public figure and the assumption, that based on what he didn't like about previous studies he will design studies that he can fully get behind and, being that the stakes are so high, I say go for it... I trust firmly that on the "other side" of his panel (should it be formed) and their approved research, Kennedy and other pro-vaccine skeptics will sleep better at night and the bigger picture, more children and adults will be spared these diseases, which makes it worth it to me.
I'm aware some folks out-there believe everyone should build their immunity naturally... and that's a different stance than the skeptical pro-vaccine bunch. And I'm sure they're are a zillion other reasons why some will still stand (and always stand) against having their child receive vaccines... and that's not with whom this issue lays.
Other important facts I feel are worth considering:
Multiple respected medical groups and organizations stand by the most current research that concludes there is no relation between autism and vaccines. The research that concluded there was such evidence was debunked and removed from the Lancet.
Autism Speaks links to this article: https://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/no-mmr-autism-link-large-study-vaccinated-vs-unvaccinated-kids
And this video:
Now, sadly, what muddies the water is the fact that Kennedy historically is quoted as saying some anti-vaccine leaning and frankly seemingly anti-vac supporting things, which I believe, when we read these statements we need to read and then say out loud ... "he vaccinated all six children."
To further ensure this fact, here's what he told a reporter after his meeting with Trump.
"I am for vaccines. I have been tracking mercury in fish for 30 years and nobody has called me anti-fish. I am pro-vaccine. I had all my kids vaccinated. I think vaccines save lives. But we are also seeing an explosion in neurodevelopmental disorders and we ought to be able to do a cost benefit analysis and see what’s causing them. We ought to have robust, transparent science and an independent regulatory agency. Nobody is trying to get rid of vaccines here. I just want safe vaccines."
So again - his issue seems to be with the integrity of the CDC specifically.
Should we spend money on this as tax payers?? As I said, I am for it if nothing else to lay this issue to rest once and for all (am I skeptical about should this panel concur with the myriad of studies that support the current contents and recommended schedule of vaccines are safe this issue would be laid to rest...? Yes, very skeptical (jaded?). But I'm an eternal optimist I guess...and just the mere thought that maybe ...just maybe it would put this to bed it seems worth it).
And finally, no. I wasn't born yesterday. I don't think we ought to blindly trust the information available to us....goodness no.
But...I like how this writer explains where I land on this issue so well: "Vaccine skeptics often point to that alleged connection between vaccines and autism, in which a preservative called thimerosal is a chief culprit. But that link has been studied and debunked so many times that for it to actually exist, the medical and public health community would have to be engaged in a coverup conspiracy of global proportions."
I can't dignify Trumps comments - I just can't stomach him (sorry to those who are fans...we all have our points of view...and I am just can't ... too many issues with him in my book...). I don't know a ton about RFK, I certainly have some opinions based on the little bits I know from the media, however I am far more willing to hear him out and listen to what he has to say as he has a proven record of doing something good for humanity -- I grew up near the Hudson River and Kennedy's impressive work there stands out to me.
"Through the actions of the Hudson Riverkeeper and others, the Hudson River has become an international model for ecosystem recovery. Spurred by this tremendous success, Kennedy founded the Water Keeper Alliance to support approximately 75 Keeper organizations. He serves as President of the organization."
Finally, because I don't really get it all and I found this helpful here is some vaccine info from the CDC (granted this is only useful if you trust the CDC...but I'm outta time)
Lastly the news articles I quoted above:
Not quoted here, but read in November and in my head as I read today's headlines: https://www.statnews.com/2016/11/09/donald-trump-win-science-medicine/