Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Vaccines

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

State Health officials hope New Yorkers will draw on "big data" to help guide healthcare choices. (Copyright: Alexander Raths/Shutterstock)

Over a decade ago the preservative Thimerosal, which contains mercury, was removed from many vaccine supplies in the United States and abroad. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Dr. Mark Hyman, examine the research literature on Thimerosal and argue that it should be removed from the vaccines that still contain it. They’ve written the book Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak, which makes the case for the elimination the chemical from the world’s vaccine supplies and replacing it with already available safer alternatives.



Dr. Mark Hyman and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Comments [26]

NickO from Rutherford

Don't understand why so many people are FOR keeping Thimerosol if there are alternatives that do not contain Mercury. If there is even a slight chance it could be harmful, why take that chance. The way our bodies work is still somewhat of a mystery, so we should favor erring on the side of caution.

Sep. 03 2014 01:09 PM

Recently Leonard had on Mary Gordon, who commented about how one of the aims of her writing is to avoid the trap of validation of our own preconceptions. Of course the setup was that it is only those who watch Fox News who are susceptible to this trap. But this episode on thimerosol proves once and for all that this kind of gullibility is a nonpartisan characteristic. I was shocked at Leonard's credulousness at these guys' half-truths and mistruths. Why did you not ask Mark Hyman about how much money he makes off of the poor souls who turn to him desperately for answers to very real health problems? Oh, and the reason liberals don't question the government on climate change, but are willing to do so when it comes to vaccines? It's because in that case, the profit-making corporations are on the side of denial. And since profit = evil, whichever side business is on must be the wrong one.

Aug. 25 2014 08:57 AM
B from Queens

I generally do not comment, but this is really not the kind of thing I expect Leonard to be indulging in. I'm disappointed.

Aug. 24 2014 05:07 AM
Charlie from Newark, NJ

Nonsense and hockum from a snake oil salesman and a fool, and it is sad to see WNYC go along with it all. I do not think I can support a station that has so little editorial self restraint in the face of popular psudo-science.

A diet book author and a failed politician are in no way experts on anything, let alone the chemistry of vaccines. That mercury exists in a chemical is not the same as that chemical being mercury. In the same way that Sodium Chloride is tasty seasoning, but chlorine gas and solid sodium are not particularly tasty on my french fries.

These authors even in their "we support vaccinations" statement undermine it with the same disprovable lies of a link to autism from the substance in question.

WNYC needs to issue a statement condemning this show or be lumped in with the various other hucksters of the world whose intellectual incuriosity have lead to the deaths of children through out the world and a resurgence of diseases long thought pushed back from the modern world.

Aug. 21 2014 04:24 AM

"Ridiculous Leonard. You should be ashamed to have these guys on...and not even with a reasonable voice for the majority of the medical community."-

Jc276, The only thing we've had is your so called 'reasonable voice' of the majority of the medical community...I'm afraid that if the medical community ran the museum, your dinosaurs might become 'REAL'...

Aug. 21 2014 01:19 AM

Was that Andrew Wakefield on today?

Ridiculous Leonard. You should be ashamed to have these guys on...and not even with a reasonable voice for the majority of the medical community. Will you next have people on to talk about the creation museum with men riding dinosaurs?

Aug. 20 2014 10:30 PM
Emmanuelle from NJ

Before many of you buy into the hysteria/paranoia nonsense, consider reading the following:

Aug. 20 2014 02:20 PM
LJ from Westchester

It doesn't seem to me that those who are speaking against this segment are addressing what was actually said.

#1 The authors were NOT speaking against vaccines
#2 They WERE pointing to pregnant women receiving flu vaccines containing Thimerosal. Wouldn't that cause the continued rise in autism rates ever though Thimerosal was removed from pediatric vaccines.

If this has no basis, then what would their agenda be? It's too much work done over too long a period of time for something random.

And rather than spending energy being insulting to the author's, maybe our energy would be better spent pressing the CDC & WHO to remove it anyway...just in case.

Aug. 20 2014 01:30 PM
Bebe from Queens

I find the comments of posters here who think Robert Kennedy Jr. is hysterical or unbalanced totally off. Whenever Kennedy speaks I'm impressed by his reasoned, calm, thoughtful and incredibly knowledgeable approach to some of the most complex social/scientific issues of the day. If there is a poster child for "doing your homework," he is it.

I learned a lot from this interview and I applaud Kennedy for speaking truth to power, despite initially trying to avoid getting involved because the vaccine issue is a real hot potato.

Hopefully the publication of this book will bring change since, as Kennedy pointed out, Thimerosal unconscionably continues to be used in vaccines all over the world.

Aug. 20 2014 01:29 PM
Emmanuelle from NJ

Mercury in ocean fish is more toxic than the kind of mercury in vaccines.

Aug. 20 2014 12:54 PM
Amy from Westchester

PLEASE READ - Biochemist here weighing in: NOT ALL forms of mercury are bad.

There are different forms of mercury. The scary harmful form is methylmercury. Insoluble forms and ethylmercury (which is Thimerosal)are relatively harmless. Ethylmercury (Thimerosal)is processed much differently than the methyl form, does not cause nervous disorders and passes out of the system relatively quickly. To say this is harmful because it contains 'mercury' is like saying salt (NaCl molecules of sodium and chloride) will kill you because it contains elemental sodium (explosive) and chlorine gas.

These are very different beasts. Leonard and everyone else, please make this clear before another anti-vaccine revolution or anti-CDC campaign gets launched

Aug. 20 2014 12:54 PM
Sredni Vashtar from the Shed Out Back

Does Mr. Kennedy realize how bad the optics are of essentially admitting that he resorted to blackmail? Do what I want or I publish. Whatever the merits of his crusade, and there are some though I'm mostly skeptical, perhaps he should not have mentioned that potentially damaging fact.

Aug. 20 2014 12:43 PM

This segment doesn't seem to be anti-vaccine, but anti-mercury.

What purpose does it serve for posters to conflate the two?

Why does this country insist on continuing to include it in fillings and vaccines?

Aug. 20 2014 12:42 PM
Alexander Louis from New York City

Thank you for your illuminating show on people's willingness to believe quack science after their children suffer a neurological condition that has a yet unexplained cause. We often arrogantly believe we are immune to mass delusions. It is sobering to listen to otherwise intelligent, critical minded people, talk to each other about absolute paranoid nonsense, especially considering how dangerous the anti-vaccine myth is.

Aug. 20 2014 12:40 PM

Because he's a Kennedy he's probably used to having the biggest voice in the room. Kennedy needs to learn to present in a cooler, reasoned way. His near hysteria, and insistence on dominating the discussion, turned me off. I then turned him off.

Aug. 20 2014 12:39 PM

I wonder if Robert Kennedy believes that Oswald killed his uncle.

Aug. 20 2014 12:37 PM
JFreely from NYC

Please address: Would they recommend not getting flu vaccines for adults?

Aug. 20 2014 12:36 PM
BK from Hoboken

I find it ironic to hear the guest analyzing study inclusion/exclusion criteria, designs, etc. When the autism-vaccine link was "established" by the WORST study published by The Lancet, later revoked.
While Leonard is trying to ask counterpoint questions, he continues to give the vaccine truthers way too much publicity. I respect the hell out of LL and love his show, but is his personal life impacting the amount of attention he pays to this?
Let shear some shows about the re-emergence of whooping CPU and other very communicable diseases due to the attention paid to morons like Jenny McCarthy. If you don't want to immunize your kids, home school them and keep them away from everyone else.

Aug. 20 2014 12:24 PM
Bob from Westchester

Please stop giving credence to this pseudo-science. Real people get hurt by spreading this hogwash. It's also insulting to your audience.

Aug. 20 2014 12:23 PM
pina from So.Plainfield

Come on, Leonard! YOU should know better than this?

Aug. 20 2014 12:21 PM
Sredni Vashtar from the Shed Out Back

I always hate it when Mr. Lopate presents such segments without full disclosure. A long-time listener, I know he has a high degree of suspicion of vaccines - questioning (without scientific evidence/knowledge) the need for the rubella vaccine, for example - possibly related to his having (so I've heard) a child affected with autism.

Aug. 20 2014 12:21 PM

Up next, climate change deniers, creationists.

Aug. 20 2014 12:19 PM

Really Leonard? Really? If it wasn't Robert F. Kennedy would you have these two on?

Aug. 20 2014 12:17 PM
Sredni Vashtar from the Shed Out Back

While Mr. Kennedy doesn't come across in this interview as quite the lunatic painted by such sites as, he sure does like to hear himself talk. And I'm wondering if the quiver in his voice is natural, incipient Parkinson's, or a sign of the hysteria that and other sites believes he indulges in.

Aug. 20 2014 12:17 PM
J from Brooklyn

Vaccine truthers? WNYC now has the same scientific and editorial standards as Fox News. Well done!

Take that, science!

Aug. 20 2014 12:14 PM
Ben from Queens

Stop it, Leonard. Of course all mercury is bad. And Thimerosol is bad. And should be removed. Duh.

But -- the HEADLINE here:

1) Thimerosol was accused of being responsible for autism by so many people for so many years. They demanded its removal and they won.

2) Thimerosol was REMOVED from all pediatric vaccines almost 10 years ago.

3) Autism is ALWAYS diagnosed by age 5. It continues its climb even without Thimerosol. Autism IS NOT due to Thimerosol, however bad it is.

4) So before you have a show about Thimerosol, can you please have TEN SHOWS where you line up all of the anti-vaccine people who complained about Thimerosol for so many years and have them ALL APOLOGIZE for all of the epidemics we now have of Whooping Cough and Measles?


Aug. 20 2014 12:12 PM

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