Earlier this week, we had the honor of hosting a real live ***KENNEDY*** right in our very own Statehouse. Yep, RFK Jr. regaled us with his scare stories about the evils of Thimerosal, a vaccine additive containing (a harmless type of) mercury. It seemed a stretch at the time because (1) the autism/Thimerosal “connection” has been thoroughly debunked, and (2) Thimerosal was eliminated from all but one vaccine years ago, and yet autism rates have continued to climb since then.
But here’s something I didn’t learn until today:
The one vaccine containing Thimerosal is not on Vermont’s list of required vaccines.
That’s right. You don’t need a philosophical exemption to avoid the imaginary taint of Thimerosal. Which means that Kennedy’s argument was completely irrelevant to our current policy debate.
In any event, Kennedy seems to have done his cause no good. There’s no sign he moved the needle (sorry); in fact, he may have turned off some undecideds with his overheated rhetoric. Like, for instance, the editorial board of the Times Argus and Rutland Herald:
Kennedy’s strident language added nothing to the debate. He had discredited himself even before he arrived in Montpelier by furthering the damaging and discredited notion that there is a connection between vaccines and autism. The author of the paper asserting that connection has himself admitted to scientific fraud.
But I think it’s worth noting for the record that Kennedy’s bugbear, Thimerosal, has no bearing at all on the philosophical-exemption issue.