THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Tuesday, March 24, 2015, 6:51 AM
TRENTON — Calling the federal agency that makes recommendations on vaccines a “sock puppet” for that industry, Robert Kennedy Jr. spoke out Monday against making it harder for parents to exempt their children from vaccinations.
Kennedy, the nephew of President John Kennedy and son of former U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy, joined groups that oppose school-attendance vaccination requirements for a news conference in the New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton. The Legislature is considering bills that would tighten rules for vaccine exemptions.
Kennedy said he supports using vaccines and had all six of his children vaccinated, but he said the pharmaceutical industry profits immensely from the government’s recommendations. The Food and Drug Administration licenses vaccines, and then the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends to doctors what vaccines to use, who should get them and when to administer them.
He said school-attendance rules mean that vaccines are the only product Americans are required to consume and that Congress protected pharmaceutical companies from liability for problems stemming from them in the 1980s.
“All of the studies show the primary reason people don’t vaccinate — the primary reason — is mistrust of the regulators,” he said. “The solution to this problem, to the extent that it’s a problem in New Jersey, is to restore the regulatory process, not to compel people to do something that they may feel they have very good reason not to do.”