Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Announces Opposition to New Vaccine Bill

The author, lawyer, and opponent of certain vaccines speaks out against a new bill in Albany


Daniel Schwen/Wikimedia Commons

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. announced his opposition today to a bill moving through the New York State Assembly that would mandate certain vaccinations. The legislation, dubbed A791a, would mandate meningococcal immunization injections for children in sixth and eleventh grade in New York State.

Kennedy said he opposes the bill on grounds that the vaccine could be harmful to children. His concern stems, in part, from the vaccine ingredient thimerosal, a mercury-containing organic compound in the meningococcal vaccine. Kennedy says it contains too much mercury for the vaccines to be safe for children. The charge that thimerosol can harm children is not a new one — the U.S. Government operates a FAQ section on the Food and Drug Administration website dedicated to allaying fears related to the ingredient (which is not used in many vaccines).

Kennedy’s other concern has to do with financial issues that could arise if the bill is passed. According to the CDC, the vaccine program could cost millions of dollars. Essentially, Kennedy believes that the primary goal of Bill A791a is not to protect children from falling ill, but to make the vaccine industry more money.

Related: Measles at Bard College — Should We Be Worried?

The scientific literature on vaccinations has yet to support any evidence of more harm than good coming from mandated vaccinations, although the U.S. does maintain a vaccination injury compensation fund — the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program — that is used to settle cases regarding vaccination-related lawsuits.

This national vaccine debate has been going on for decades, and was most recently seen after a measles outbreak early in 2015. In January, a measles case was reported at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson. In April, New York State Senator Michael Gianaris introduced a bill that would require parents of unvaccinated children to get documentation that shows a physician has notified them of the dangers of not being vaccinated. Whether that bill or bill A791a will ever become law remains to be seen.

View Kennedy’s June 2 address in Albany below:

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