Trump's new CDC Director is very pro-vaccine, but was she also at one time a quack? - 2017-07-10
It's hard to believe that it's been a full ten days since my talk at NECSS entitled Whither the antivaccine movement in the Age of Trump? At the time, I only knew the identity of one of the most important public health figures appointed by President Donald Trump, FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb. As I noted when it was clear that he was going to be Trump's pick, antivaxers weren't going to like it. Why? One reason is because Gottlieb is the ultimate pharma shill, if such a thing exists. Another reason is that he is very pro-vaccine. This amuses me when I consider the high hopes antivaxers had for the Trump administration after his long, sordid history of antivaccine sentiments, his having met with antivaccine "hero" Andrew Wakefield during the presidential campaign, and his having met with another antivaccine "hero," Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., during the transition period.
At the time I gave my talk, I didn't yet know whom Trump had chosen for CDC Director. If I had, my talk would have been different. Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, the woman chosen to run the CDC does not at first glance appear to be the sort of person who would be willing to help Trump dismantle the public health system by supporting the idea that vaccines cause autism, attacking the Vaccine Court, or calling for more bogus antivaccine "research" designed to find nonexistent detrimental health effects due to vaccines. Indeed, as you will see, as Georgia's Commissioner of Public Health , she had little in her record that appeared disturbing. When it was formally announced last Friday that Dr. Fitzgerald is the new CDC Director , on the surface she seemed to me like any other CDC Director, complete with a record as a leader at the state level that is pro-vaccine and pro-public health. I was momentarily reassured. Then, just yesterday I learned something that lessens the reassurance I initially felt. Let's just say that before she entered public service in 2011 she peddled dubious anti-aging treatments . Now I'm not as sure about Dr. Fitzgerald as I was on Friday, because whether what she's done since then is enough to make up for peddling pseudoscience is something I'm having a hard time deciding.
Before I get to the details of what raised my concern, let's start with the reasons to be reassured first before I get into the worrisome history I learned yesterday morning that forced me to make major modifications to this post.