NOTE: BuzzFeed interviewed both Dan Olmsted, Editor, and JB Handley, co-founder of Generation Rescue (and AOA) for this article.
Trump’s potential appointment was strongly welcomed on Wednesday by many in the activist community who believe that excessive vaccination is spurring an “epidemic” of autism and other chronic diseases among children. US autism rates have been rising since the late 1990s, and now 1 in 45 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, though the CDC has attributed this to changes in diagnoses and surveys. Thimerosal was discontinued as a preservative in children’s vaccines in 1999, though it is now widely considered safe by the medical community.
Many activists feel that Kennedy could spearhead a sea change in how decisions about vaccines are made in the US.
“I’m pretty tapped in to the autism community, and I never got more emails in a shorter period of time than yesterday afternoon — this is electrifying,” Dan Olmsted, editor of a blog called Age of Autism, which saw a nearly twofold increase in website traffic after yesterday’s news, told BuzzFeed News. “Now you’ve got the president-elect talking to the most high-profile vaccine safety challenger in the country. It’s just a whole different universe.”
Kennedy suggested yesterday in an interview with Science that the main focus of a vaccine safety commission would be on the CDC, which he said “is the locus of most of the most serious problems with the vaccine program.”
The focus on the CDC is being heralded as a victory by some in the anti-vaccine community, as well.
“My hope is that this commission cracks open the data that exists at CDC and tells the American people the truth,” J.B. Handley, co-founder of Generation Rescue, Jenny McCarthy’s autism organization, told BuzzFeed News. “We are mobilized, energized, and extremely hopeful based on the appointment of Bobby Kennedy. In my personal opinion [Trump] picked the best possible person to head the commission.” Read more here.