In July, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, who is a physician, said there were “real questions” about vaccine safety (there are not). At a town hall hosted by CNN Wednesday night, she said those statements were taken out of context and that it’s “ridiculous” to say she holds anti-vaccination views.
Stein told the Washington Post that while vaccines have been critical in eradicating diseases, maybe the FDA and the CDC can’t always be trusted as regulatory agencies, and also remember when there was mercury in vaccines? (An ethylmercury-based preservative was used in some vaccines from the 1930's until 2001, but wasn’t hazardous to human health. It was removed over bogus fears that it could cause autism. It’s still used in multi-use vials of flu vaccine. It is, again, not toxic to human beings and never has been.)
Stein knows all that, she told CNN, and certainly wasn’t saying what she said. From the Guardian:
But in a CNN town hall event on Wednesday, Stein said her statements have been taking out of context and that previous concerns over mercury in vaccines have now been resolved.
“I think there’s kind of an effort to divert the conversation from our actual agenda, because the idea that I oppose vaccines is completely ridiculous, or that I’m anti-science,” Stein said.
“I am certainly not hostile to science. I’m not anti-science. I believe that asking questions is part of our responsibility as scientists. And as physicians, we always need to be asking those questions.”
In July, Stein deleted a tweet that said there is “no evidence” that vaccines cause autism and replaced it with something more equivocating. (There is no evidence that vaccines cause autism and a mountain of evidence to the contrary.)
It’s quite likely that Stein was trying to thread a too-fine needle here, using vaccine fears as a way to talk about how distrustful some Americans are of the federal government and the reliability of our regulatory agencies to be fair, impartial, and un-bought. Instead, though, she somehow managed to very neatly echo the precise line used by anti-vaccination activists: that they’re not anti-vaccine, per se, but only want more study. More testing. More questions answered. Not anti-vax, as Jenny McCarthy put it, “but pro-safe vaccines.”
Now that we’ve settled that one, maybe we can move on to whether wi-fi is hurting children’s brains.
Here’s Stein’s full interview.