Vaccines Are Safe, No Matter What Bobby Kennedy Says
I love my uncle. But when it comes to vaccines, he is wrong.
By Kerry Kennedy Meltzer
Dr. Meltzer is an internal medicine resident physician at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
- Dec. 30, 2020
RFK Granddaughter Speaks Out Against Uncle Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Anti-Vaccine Stance: ‘He’s Wrong’
“I love my uncle. But when it comes to vaccines, he is wrong,” Dr. Kerry Kennedy Meltzer writes about her uncle Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
By Sean Neumann
December 30, 2020 11:23 AM
“I love my uncle. But when it comes to vaccines, he is wrong,” Dr. Kerry Kennedy Meltzer, a granddaughter of the late RFK, writes in a New York Times op-ed published on Wednesday.
The Kennedy family has long spoken out against Kennedy Jr., 66, over his anti-vaccination beliefs. Last year, three members of the famed American political dynasty wrote an op-ed in Politico denouncing Kennedy Jr., the famed senator’s second-oldest son, for pushing anti-vaccination theories online.
However, amid the long-awaited rollout of multiple novel coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccinations this month, the Kennedy family is again pushing back against their uncle’s anti-science opinions.
“His concern — that the Covid vaccine is potentially unsafe, and hasn’t been properly tested — is widespread, and dangerously wrong,” Meltzer, an internal medicine resident physician at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, writes in the recent retort to her uncle.
Meltzer says her uncle has shared ‘dubious’ information on Facebook, which pushes false narratives about COVID-19 vaccines, reaching a wide audience with thousands of reactions and hundreds of comments.
At the same time, the Kennedy granddaughter says she and colleagues at her New York hospital are welcoming the “historic” rollout aimed at saving lives.
Her own social media feed, the physician writes, is “filled with pictures of friends and colleagues, sleeves rolled up, writing about how much this vaccination means to them.”
“It’s hard to express how momentous it felt to receive the Covid vaccine,” Meltzer adds, recalling the spring “when my hospital system had among the highest number of intubated patients of any health care center in the country.”
Kennedy’s battle over vaccine: Dr. Kerry Kennedy Meltzer vs. Bobby Kennedy, Jr.
Dr. Kerry Kennedy (Townsend) Meltzer, granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy
“I love my uncle. But when it comes to vaccines, he is wrong.”
The family that has grown from Joseph and Rose Kennedy has been accomplished and intelligent — and often loyal.
However, the Kennedy klan has been outspoken about one of their members who has become one of the leading anti-vaxxers in the country, those who oppose every vaccine.
That one is Bobby Kennedy, Jr., son of the late U.S. Attorney General, U.S. Senator, and presidential candidate of the same name.
On Wednesday, one of Robert F. Kennedy’s granddaughter’s took her uncle to the woodshed over his outspoken opposition to the Covid-19 vaccine that is now being administered throughout the country.
And she has medical credentials that he does not possess.
Her name is Dr. Kerry Kennedy (Townsend) Meltzer, and she is the daughter of RFK’s oldest child, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, former Lt. Governor of Maryland.
Had to make the attack personal
Dr. Meltzer explained in the New York Times Op-Ed that her mother, her late sister Mauve Townsend McKean, and her uncle, Joseph P. Kennedy II, all criticized Bobby’s virulent attack on vaccines of all kinds in an op-ed in Politico.
Her attack was muted but still direct and blunt,
I stopped following my uncle Robert F. Kennedy Jr. — a noted anti-vaccination activist — on social media in 2019, when he was posting misinformation about the dangers of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine in the midst of an outbreak.
When I take a look at his Facebook page now, I find a post about the Covid-19 vaccine that says, “We clearly have a systematic problem when government health regulators have utterly abdicated their responsibility to safeguard public health and refer safety concerns about shoddily tested, zero-liability vaccines to pharmaceutical companies.”
His concern — that the Covid vaccine is potentially unsafe, and hasn’t been properly tested — is widespread, and dangerously wrong. According to a report published by the Kaiser Family Foundation on Dec. 15, roughly a quarter of Americans say they “probably or definitely would not get a COVID-19 vaccine even if it were available for free and deemed safe by scientists.”
If this number holds, then Dr. Anthony Fauci’s estimate that at least 75 percent of Americans must be vaccinated for the country to achieve herd immunity, and effectively end person-to-person spread of the disease, could be unachievable.
Kerry Kennedy Meltzer, “Vaccines Are Safe, No Matter What Bobby Kennedy
Says,” New York Times, Op-Ed, December 30, 2020
Bobby Kennedy used Facebook for “misinformation”
Bobby Kennedy has been known and well-regarded for his fight against climate change. However, for the past five years, he has been a strident voice against vaccines.
In 2019, the journal “Vaccine” found that Kennedy was leading one of two major organizations that posted advertisements on Facebook,
Of 145 anti-vaccine Facebook advertisements that ran between May 31, 2017 and February 22, 2019, the World Mercury Project and a group called Stop Mandatory Vaccination together ran 54% of them.
The World Mercury Project, which ran the most ads of any single source, is an organization closely aligned with the anti-vaccine group Children’s Health Defense. Both are spearheaded by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental lawyer turned prolific peddler of dangerous anti-vaccine misinformation. He and his organizations promote conspiracy theories about vaccine safety, including the roundly debunked claim that safe, life-saving immunizations are linked to autism. More recently, Kennedy has become a prominent opponent of laws aimed at increasing vaccination rates among school children.
Beth Mole, “Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is the single leading source of
anti-vax ads on Facebook,” ARS Technica, November 14, 2019