Autism Investigated Note: Without the anti-vaccination movements of the 19th and early 20th centuries introducing such novelties as federal safety standards and recognition of basic human rights that health boards must respect, the later successes attributed to vaccination would have been impossible.
Sharyl: Environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. briefed members of Congress on Capitol Hill. Pushing them to investigate an untouchable subject: the safety of vaccines. Kennedy is going against the grain of the government and medical establishment, which have long insisted there’s no scientific reason to be concerned about vaccine side effects. Earlier, he held a news conference alongside a diverse group of vaccine safety advocates. He says the Trump transition team contacted him with the idea of forming an independent scientific commission on vaccine safety.
Sharyl: Kennedy personally met with Trump last month. But after Kennedy talked to the press about it he says the Trump administration walked back the plan.
Kennedy: I’ve been contacted three times by the administration since then. And they tell me that they’re still going forward with a commission. But all I can say is to tell you what the president told me. He specifically told me that he knew that the pharmaceutical industry was going to cause an uproar about this and was gonna try to make him back down and he said “I’m not gonna back down.” They tried during the campaign and I didn’t back down then, and I’m not gonna back down. But I can’t tell you what will happen.
Sharyl: After the news conference I spoke with Robert De Niro who has a teenage son with a neurodevelopmental disorder.
Sharyl: Can you review what got you interested in this issue?
Robert De Niro: Well, I mean I never was really that aware though other than my own son was in the spectrum and didn’t even really think much about even why he was that way. But as time went on I realized in talking to my wife she said “no, he was like this” and there was a period I wasn’t there when he was just born and she said he was very alert, and if I know anything I know her knowing our son. I know him so well myself but she knows certain other things that I felt she might be right.
Sharyl: Can you give me just a short paragraph or two on your son?
De Niro: He’s almost 19 and he’s a wonderful kid, got a great sense of humor. In many ways I feel very lucky that he is so articulate in certain ways but definitely he’s within the spectrum. And that’s just what it is. And so the only people who really understand are people who have children in that situation.
Sharyl: The position of the government and many scientists is that this is a settled issue it’s a disproved myth and there’s nothing to it. What would you say to that?
De Niro: Well I would say okay but then who settled it? How was it settled? Where is the science as Bobby Kennedy says? Where’s the science? Here’s what we have from all these studies and here’s what they have. So it seems that something is not right.
Sharyl: Are you behind the idea of forming some sort of scientific commission that would independently take a look at this?
De Niro: Sure, absolutely, an independent commission. There has to be.
Sharyl: And for clarity, a lot of people whether they are scientists or parents who question the safety of vaccines and what’s happened to their children, they’re called anti vaccine.
De Niro: Yes.
Sharyl: Are you anti vaccine?
De Niro: No I’m not anti vaccine, and as Bobby Kennedy said very eloquently, that’s that’s like a witch, you know You’re a witch! It’s like the Salem witch trials, all of a sudden you’re anti-vax. That’s a lot of baloney, a lot of malarkey. That’s ridiculous. I’m not anti-vax. I take vaccines all the time and my kids have gotten vaccinated. But there’s something wrong and it’s gotta be fixed.
Addendum: Originally posted on Full Measure.