How Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Distorted Vaccine Science – By Seth Mnookin, STAT on January 11, 2017


His anti-vaccine credentials date back to 2005

Credit:  Spencer Platt Getty Images

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said Tuesday that he will head up a panel on vaccine safety for Donald Trump.

The president-elect’s transition team spokeswoman later walked that back, saying that he is “exploring the possibility” of forming a panel on autism, but “no decisions have been made.”

Let’s hope Trump drops any idea of a vaccine panel headed by Kennedy. For more than a decade, Kennedy has promoted anti-vaccine propaganda completely unconnected to reality. If Kennedy’s panel leads to even a small decline in vaccine rates across the country, it will result in the waste of untold amounts of money and, in all likelihood, the preventable deaths of infants too young to be vaccinated.

That wasted money will largely affect public health departments, whose budgets are already strained. A 2010 study in Pediatrics calculated the public sector expenses of containing a measles outbreak in which 11 children were infected at $124,517, an average of more than $10,000 per infection. That’s not to say that families won’t be affected as well: During that outbreak, 48 children too young to be vaccinated had to be quarantined at an average cost of $775 per family; medical costs for one infant who was infected were close to $15,000.

But those costs pale into comparison to the loss that will be felt by families who lose children to vaccine-preventable diseases, which typically strike when children are infected while still too young to be vaccinated.

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