Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

U of R doctors respond to claims of federal commission on vaccine safety


Vaccination skeptic Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said he would chair a panel to review vaccine safety, at President-elect Donald Trump's request.

The claim, however, is drawing criticism from vaccine experts at the University of Rochester School of Medicine who fear the panel would influence people to believe debunked theories.

“I would fear not. The currently licensed and sold vaccines are excellent,” said Dr. Geoffrey Weinberg, a professor of pediatrics who specializes in studying infectious diseases.

According to Weinberg, Kennedy’s long-time theories about a link between autism and vaccines have been proven untrue.

In addition to influenza and measles, mumps and rubella, Weinberg said vaccines protect children and adults against a wide variety of deadly diseases.

“The trouble is people grab onto old ideas that have already been disproven and you can continue to believe those, but you have to, if you’re a proper skeptic, look at what scientific evidence has been generated,” Weinberg said.

President-elect Trump’s transition team has contradicted Kennedy’s claim of a future vaccine commission.

Trump has also been linked to vaccine conspiracy theories in the past. Both he and Kennedy have advocated for children to get smaller doses of vaccines spread out over time.

“Inadequate dosing might give the child a shot but not give the child protection, and spreading out the dosing just spreads out your risk period of getting the infection before the vaccine can even have a chance to work,” Weinberg explained.

Kennedy made his name in the anti-vaccine movement in 2005, when he published a story alleging a massive conspiracy regarding thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative that had been removed from all childhood vaccines except for some variations of the flu vaccine in 2001.

No reputable scientific study has ever discovered a link between vaccines and autism.

Sasha-Ann Simons joined the team at WXXI News in 2015 as a Multimedia Reporter/Producer. She tells stories about the innovation economy and technology in upstate New York and also does general assignment reporting. Sasha-Ann is the host of Arts InFocus, WXXI-TV's weekly arts and culture program. She is also a fill-in host and regular contributor to Need To Know.