Writing in Politico, the extended family of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. begged the public to ignore his anti-vaccination stance and instead vaccinate their children.
Kennedy’s sister Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the former lieutenant governor of Maryland, his brother Joseph P. Kennedy III, a former member of Congress from Massachusetts,and his niece, Maeve Kennedy McKean, the executive director of Georgetown University’s Global Health Initiatives, joined to issue a plea to the public, starting by writing, “We love Robert F. Kennedy Jr., but he is part of a misinformation campaign that’s having heartbreaking—and deadly—consequences.”
The trio continue: “Americans have every right to be alarmed about the outbreak of measles in pockets of our country with unusually high rates of unvaccinated citizens, especially children. Right now, officials in 22 states are grappling with a resurgence of the disease, which was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000. With over 700 cases already reported and indications that more outbreaks will occur, 2019 will likely see the most recorded cases of measles in decades.”
The authors note that measles is not the only disease that is spreading as a result of non-vaccinations, pointing out that Maine health officials acknowledged in March there were 41 new cases of whooping cough, double the number from the same time period in 2018.
After quoting the World Health Organization reporting a 300% increase in measles cases over last year, with over 110,000 people dying annually, they write bluntly, “Most cases of preventable diseases occur among unvaccinated children, because parents have chosen not to vaccinate, have delayed vaccination, have difficulty accessing vaccines, or the children were too young to receive the vaccines.”
The authors say of RFK Jr., “He has helped to spread dangerous misinformation over social media and is complicit in sowing distrust of the science behind vaccines … his and others’ work against vaccines is having heartbreaking consequences.”
They continue: “The fact is that immunizations prevent some 2 million to 3 million deaths a year, and have the potential to save another 1.5 million lives every year with broader vaccine coverage, according to the WHO. Smallpox, which plagued mankind for thousands of years, has been eradicated through vaccines. Because of immunizations, no cases of polio have been reported in the United States since 1979. “
After citing their family’s efforts on behalf of vaccinations, the authors conclude:
Those who delay or refuse vaccinations, or encourage others to do so, put themselves and others, especially children, at risk. It is in all our interests to make sure that immunizations reach every child on the globe through safe, effective and affordable vaccines. Everyone must communicate the benefits and safety of vaccines, and advocate for the respect and confidence of the institutions which make them possible. To do otherwise risks even further erosion of one of public health’s greatest achievements.