Dr. Kerry Kennedy Meltzer, niece of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., called out her uncle for spreading anti-vaccination messages, calling his position — particularly on coronavirus vaccines – "dangerously wrong."
In a New York Times op-ed published Wednesday, the granddaughter of the late former senator and attorney general Robert Kennedy said she is speaking out because just as her uncle's name gives him a platform to spread information, her family ties give her the opportunity to set the record straight.
"As a doctor, and as a member of the Kennedy family, I feel I must use whatever small platform I have to state a few things unequivocally," Meltzer wrote. "I love my uncle Bobby. I admire him for many reasons, chief among them his decades-long fight for a cleaner environment. But when it comes to vaccines, he is wrong."
Meltzer, an internal medicine resident at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, said that on the date she wrote the piece there had been just 11 people with serious side effects from their COVID-19 vaccinations, compared to more than 2.1 million people who had been vaccinated.
"This is normal, and no cause for alarm," Meltzer wrote. "Serious side effects of the Covid vaccine have been extraordinarily rare, but health care providers are aware of them, and are responding appropriately by monitoring vaccine recipients, especially those who have a history of allergies."
Meltzer said she had stopped following her uncle on social media in 2019 when he was sharing misinformation about the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine at a time when measles had a resurgence in certain communities. Other Kennedy family members wrote a piece for Politico that year in which they spoke out against him.
Meltzer said she noticed that Kennedy is now posting messages and articles that could discourage people from getting vaccinated for COVID-19. She cited a Dec. 17 Facebook post that said there is "a systematic problem" and claimed that "government health regulators have utterly abdicated their responsibility to safeguard public health and refer safety concerns about shoddily tested, zero-liability vaccines to pharmaceutical companies."
Kennedy's post linked to an article on the website of Children's Health Defense — a group Kennedy chairs — about two individuals who had side effects from the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.
Meltzer admitted that despite being a doctor she is not a vaccine expert, but she said she trusts immunologists like Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is a proponent of the vaccine.
"The pandemic is far from over," Meltzer said. "And yet, this vaccine is our best opportunity to save lives. There is no time to waste."