After high-profile anti-vaccine activist Robert Kennedy Jr. met with Donald Trump on Tuesday, he told reporters that he had accepted the President-elect’s offer to chair a commission on vaccine safety and science.
Later that evening, though, Trump’s team pushed back on that claim, saying no decision had yet been made.
“The President-elect enjoyed his discussion with Robert Kennedy Jr. on a range of issues and appreciates his thoughts and ideas,” Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said in a statement obtained by CNN. “The President-elect is exploring the possibility of forming a commission on Autism, which affects so many families; however no decisions have been made at this time. The President-elect looks forward to continuing the discussion about all aspects of Autism with many groups and individuals.”
Kennedy and Trump have both pushed the discredited theory that vaccinating children can cause autism, even though the notion of a link between vaccines and autism has been thoroughly discredited by the medical community. Trump has said that he has personally witnessed children who received “massive injections” of vaccines at once develop “horrible autism” as a result, while Kennedy continues to promote the myth that thimerosal, a mercury-based compound once contained in many childhood vaccines, causes autism.
Kennedy’s claim that he would be leading a Trump administration panel on “vaccine safety and scientific integrity” prompted alarm along doctors’ associations.
“Vaccines have been part of the fabric of our society for decades and are the most significant medical innovation of our time,” doctors Fernando Stein and Karen Remley of the American Academy of Pediatrics said in a statement Tuesday. “Vaccines are safe. Vaccines are effective. Vaccines save lives.”