Spooked by President Donald Trump’s skeptical stance on vaccines, more than 350 pro-vaccine groups decided to express their “unequivocal support for the safety of vaccines” in a letter to the president.
Led by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the group sent the letter (PDF) addressed directly to Trump last week.
Their move follows news that vaccine critic Robert Kennedy Jr. met with the then president-elect in January, with the political scion telling reporters afterward he was asked to chair a commission on “vaccine safety and scientific integrity." Trump's team denied that claim.
“Vaccines protect the health of children and adults and save lives,” the letter opened. “Vaccines have been part of the fabric of our society for decades and are one of the most significant medical innovations of our time.”
Their letter highlighted the measles outbreak case at Disneyland in 2014 and a record-high 48,277 cases of pertussis in 2012 to emphasize the point that vaccination is still very much necessary. It went on to suggest that the nation should “redouble our efforts to make needed investments in patient and family education about the importance of vaccines in order to increase the rate of vaccination among all populations.”
Some of the country’s top medical, professional and patient advocacy groups signed on, including the American College of Physicians, American Medical Association and Autism Speaks.
Despite a swell of antivaccine sentiments, the public's opinion is still overwhelmingly in favor of immunizations, according to a recent Pew Research Center report. The group found that 88% of Americans think the benefits of MMR vaccines outweigh the risks, and that 82% of Americans are in favor of MMR vaccination requirements for kids.
In their letter to Trump, the groups also enclosed dozens of pages citing the research discrediting a link between vaccine and autism.
Trump, who has no scientific or medical credentials, has said for years his belief is that the current vaccine timeline subjects children to too many shots in a small time.
Lots of autism and vaccine response. Stop these massive doses immediately. Go back to single, spread out shots! What do we have to lose.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2012
If I were President I would push for proper vaccinations but would not allow one time massive shots that a small child cannot take - AUTISM.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 27, 2014
Still, the administration hasn't announced any new plans for vaccines. Sabin Vaccine Institute President Peter Hotez, in an interview with FiercePharma, said that medical experts are concerned, but that until nominations at key government health organizations like the CDC are announced, it is too early to sound an alarm on the White House.
The pro-vaccine organizations ended the letter by saying that they would welcome meeting with the president “to share the robust, extensive scientific evidence supporting vaccine safety and effectiveness.”