Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has been taken to task by three members of his famous family for his views on vaccines, which have been debunked by health officials.
Although the country is mired in one of the worst measles outbreaks in years, Kennedy, a former Bedford resident, has been known to spread conspiracy theories about vaccines causing autism and other impairments on social media, prompting his family to respond in an essay posted on Politico .
The World Health Organization has reported a 300 percent increase in the number of measles cases around the world as compared to this time last year, the family noted.
“The WHO has listed vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 threats to global health in 2019," the family members. "Most cases of preventable diseases occur among unvaccinated children because parents have chosen not to vaccinate, have delayed vaccination, have difficulty accessing vaccines, or the children were too young to receive the vaccines.”
In the essay published this week, Kennedy’s sister, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, his brother, Joseph P. Kennedy II, and his niece, Maeve Kennedy McKean, called him “complicit in sowing distrust of the science behind vaccines.”
“These tragic numbers are caused by the growing fear and mistrust of vaccines — amplified by internet doomsayers. Robert F. Kennedy Jr.—Joe and Kathleen’s brother and Maeve’s uncle—is part of this campaign to attack the institutions committed to reducing the tragedy of preventable infectious diseases. He has helped to spread dangerous misinformation over social media and is complicit in sowing distrust of the science behind vaccines.”
The family went on to praise “Bobby,” citing his work in the environment and his efforts to clean the Hudson River and other waterways. They said that “we stand behind him in his ongoing fight to protect our environment. However, on vaccines he is wrong.”
“And his and others’ work against vaccines is having heartbreaking consequences. The challenge for public health officials right now is that many people are more afraid of the vaccines than the diseases, because they've been lucky enough to have never seen the diseases and their devastating impact. But that’s not luck; it’s the result of concerted vaccination efforts over many years. We don’t need measles outbreaks to remind us of the value of vaccination.”
In the essay, the family noted that “President Kennedy signed the Vaccination Assistance Act in 1962 to, in the words of a CDC report, ‘achieve as quickly as possible the protection of the population, especially of all preschool children ... through intensive immunization activity.’
“In a message to Congress that year, Kennedy said: ‘There is no longer any reason why American children should suffer from polio, diphtheria, whooping cough, or tetanus. … I am asking the American people to join in a nationwide vaccination program to stamp out these four diseases.’”
The complete essay on Politico can be found here .
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