According to surgeon David Gorski, prospective HHS Secretary Tom Price belongs to the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. The name is anodyne, but the group is anything but:
Perhaps he was so attracted to the AAPS vision of doctors as special and “outside of the herd” to the point that he ignored its simultaneous promotion of dangerous medical quackery, such as antivaccine pseudoscience blaming vaccines for autism, including a view that is extreme even among antivaccine activists, namely that the “shaken baby syndrome” is a “misdiagnosis” for vaccine injury; its HIV/AIDS denialism; its blaming immigrants for crime and disease; its promotion of the pseudoscience claiming that abortion causes breast cancer using some of the most execrable “science” ever; its rejection of evidence-based guidelines as an unacceptable affront on the godlike autonomy of physicians; or the way the AAPS rejects even the concept of a scientific consensus about anything.
As Gorski notes, it’s possible Price doesn’t fully agree with the organization’s positions. He also hasn’t publicly expressed any doubts about the efficacy of vaccines or denied the existence of AIDS. Nevertheless, Gorski is correct to be concerned about the implications of Price’s AAPS affiliation.
But this isn’t the first time Trump and his inner circle have invited accusations of vaccine skepticism. According to Stat News, our future president met with anti-vaccine activists this summer—and they’re optimistic about his views:
“For the first time in a long time, I feel very positive about this, because Donald Trump is not beholden to the pharmaceutical industry,” movement leader Andrew Wakefield told STAT in a phone interview.
Wakefield is a discredited quack. There is no evidence vaccines typically cause anything but a bit of soreness in the arm. It may sound reasonable to allow parents to “space out” vaccines or exempt their healthy children from receiving them at all, but these practices harm herd immunity and put young babies, the elderly, and immunocompromised people in serious danger.