Despite Changing Rhetoric, Trump & Azar Continue to Fuel Anti-Vaxxers

HHS Fueling America’s vaccination crisis through a problematic policy and a veterinarian in charge of the vaccination program

WASHINGTON — Despite the surge in deadly measles cases, the Trump Administration is continuing to aid anti-vaxxers through a new policy that allows parents to opt their children out from receiving lifesaving vaccinations. And while Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar denounced the anti-vaccination movement in a speech before the World Health Organization’s annual assembly on vaccine hesitancy, the head of the vaccination program at HHS is a veterinarian by training. Trump himself played a large part in spreading vaccination conspiracies and misinformation and may have surrounded himself with those who agree with him.

“It is no surprise that President Trump — a main culprit of the anti-vaxxing movement — and Secretary Azar are continuing to undermine efforts to get kids vaccinated,” said Lizzy Price, spokesperson for Restore Public Trust. “This administration is fueling the anti-vaccination movement by changing the rules to exempt ill-informed parents from protecting their children from rare, preventable diseases that were largely eradicated. In addition, installing a veterinarian to serve as acting director of the national vaccination program makes it clear that this administration is not taking this issue seriously enough. Secretary Azar’s attempts to cover up the administration’s harmful actions on vaccinations are hollow.

“It starts from the top with President Trump, but Secretary Azar is clearly part of the anti-vaccination problem we’re facing right now. The future of American’s public health should not lie with an appointee who has no clear plan to deal with threats to the health and wellbeing of children across the country.”

This year there have been at least 704 cases of people in the U.S. diagnosed with measles, a disease the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifies as a highly contagious and potentially life-threatening disease. More than 500 of the people infected were not vaccinated. Despite this, Azar oversaw the approval of a new federal rule that allows parents to exempt their children from vaccination.

What’s more, the National Vaccine Program Office is currently run by a doctor of veterinary medicine. Dr. Tammy Beckham lacks substantive experience working in human medicine. The administration has allowed her to lead the vaccine program regardless.

President Trump has also perpetuated anti-vaxxing sentiments by making scientifically false comments connecting vaccines to autism. Despite his recent change of tune, Trump has a record of spreading fear of life-saving vaccines.


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