President-Elect Donald Trump and Vaccines

President-Elect Donald Trump and Vaccines

November 10, 2016 Karie Youngdahl

Trump Tweet on vaccines
March 2014 Tweet

What does the United States president-elect have to say about vaccines?

Donald J. Trump has frequently stated that he believes that vaccines can cause autism, as in the Tweets shown here. In one of the primary debates, he dialed back his criticism a bit, stating, “I am totally in favor of vaccines, but I want smaller doses over a longer period of time.” But as Tara Healle, a blogger at Forbes.com wrote, “Vaccines are very precisely manufactured to include only what is absolutely necessary to induce enough of an immune response that the body can protect itself against those diseases. So a smaller dose wouldn’t protect a child. It would stick a child with a needle for no reason at all. And spreading out vaccines? That just increases the risks to the children, including leaving them more susceptible to the diseases for a longer period of time. Trump is not ‘totally in favor of vaccines’ if he doesn’t want children protected from the diseases above as early as possible.”

In contrast, in 2015, Hillary Clinton Tweeted, “The Science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let’s protect all our kids. #GrandmothersKnowBest.” Clinton, and President Obama, too, were not always so adamant in refuting a vaccines-autism link. This Mother Jones article notes that in 2008 both politicians, while acknowledging that no link had been demonstrated, called for more research into the question. Presumably, for them and for most of the medical and public health establishment, that question has been asked and successfully answered.

Trump Tweet on "doctor-inflicted autism"
Trump Tweet October 2012

President-elect Trump has vowed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act as one of his first priorities, and he seems to have the support of the Republican-held Senate and Congress to do so. Mitch McConnell, Senate majority leader, said today that repealing the ACA “is a pretty high item on our agenda. I would be shocked if we didn’t move forward...” The ACA requires that marketplace insurance policies cover vaccinations, as a preventive health service, without a co-pay and without being subject to policy deductibles. We can’t know now whether the Trump administration will maintain this stipulation in their to-be-proposed replacement for the ACA, but, given Trump’s attitude to business regulations, it is possible to imagine a loosening of expectations regarding insurance practices about immunization.

The Vaccines for Children program, which provides free vaccines to Medicaid-eligible, uninsured, underinsured, and Native American children, is federally funded. Its budget has been somewhat reduced under the ACA, as more children have begun to be covered under insurance plans that provide vaccines. In fiscal year 2015, its budget was about $4 billion. Since its inception in 1994, funding VFC program has not been overtly politicized, and I don’t know that anyone expects it to become so.

President-elect Trump’s appointment to head the Department of Health and Human Services will play an important role in setting the policy agenda around immunization in his administration. Politico reports that names in the mix for this cabinet position include Florida Governor Rick Scott, Newt Gingrich, and Ben Carson, MD. Carson has gone on the record saying that he doesn’t think there is a connection between vaccines and autism, as in this statement at the second GOP debate in September 2015: “There have been numerous studies, and they have not demonstrated that there is any correlation between vaccinations and autism.”

However, he continued, "Vaccines are very important. Certain ones. The ones that would prevent death or crippling. There are others, there are a multitude of vaccines which probably don't fit in that category, and there should be some discretion in those cases." Carson has not articulated which of those vaccines, approved by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, he thinks should be administered with more discretion.

Edited to add: Science reporter Zach Kopplin reported on November 18 that Mr. Trump met with anti-vaccine activists, including discredited doctor Andrew Wakefield, at an event in August 2016. 

Edited to add: On January 10, 2017, vaccine critic Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., met with the president elect and has told the press that Mr. Trump asked him to chair a committee on vaccine safety. Kennedy, an attorney and environmental activist with no scientific or public health training, is a vocal proponent of fringe and discredited ideas about vaccines. 

Comments

Posted by Brittany Hannon (not verified)

It is very scary that our president-elect chooses not to listen to the advice of experts and the evidence conducted by numerous scientists.  There has been no link found between autism and vaccines, yet Mr. Trump chooses not to listen.  Now that he is president-elect he wields a great amount of power and influence, and it is his duty to keep American people accurately informed to the best of his ability.  It is dangerous for him to continue to refute the science, and many people could be harmed if they listen to him and choose to follow a politician over a physician or other expert.  This is seen, too, when he discounted the information from top security officials that Russia was trying to interfere with the election.  I am hopeful that Dr. Carson will continue to educate him and will advocate for vaccinations in this new administration.

Posted by Shane (not verified)

Loved reading this. Great work

Posted by Desiree (not verified)

inoculation using clean vaccines is what we the people need!

we do not want vaccines that are tainted with unclean ingredients!

we do not want or need to inject ourselves and our children with aborted fetus cells, and porcine products, and monkey brain and God knows all that is unclean has been used in making these vaccines.

i am a licensed nurse and am all for inoculation using clean vaccines and good medicine. May God forbid the policies that are in place today and may He put an end to the choice of neglecting our parental responsibilities of protecting our children and ourselves from dishonest unclean medical practices.

I am an informed consumer.  I have educated myself on the good benefits of innoculation. I am aware and read the ingredients list of today's vaccines and they are unclean.

Government and big Pharmaceutical put money first before the health of the citezens.

I have contacted Merk INC. 

I will fight for what is right! 

For my children and for others who have no voice.

i am a public servant I am a nurse.

Posted by Trent (not verified)

In 1998, Andrew Wakefield published a report in The Lancet that claimed the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccination had a direct link to autism in young children. In 2004, that report was partially retracted and then 6 years later it was completely retracted. It has been found that Wakefield's study had many scientific errors such as no control and a very small sample group (12 children). Since the publishing of Wakefield's report, many other peer reviewed studies have been conducted with none of them producing any link between the MMR vaccine and autism. As a result of his fraudulent study, Wakefield is no longer allowed to practice medicine in the United Kingdom. The rates of children that receive the MMR vaccination are still low as a result of Wakefield's study, but they are slowly back on the rise. It is concerning that the (now) President of the US blatantly ignores scientific information before speaking his mind. 

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