RFK Jr’s running mate Shanahan shares vaccine skepticism 

March 29, 2024

In tech lawyer Nicole Shanahan, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has tapped a running mate who shares his skepticism of vaccines.

Shanahan has said she supports Kennedy because of his views on children’s health, and the causes of chronic diseases, including vaccines.  

In an interview with Newsweek this week about why she is running, Shanahan defended Kennedy’s views on vaccines and took issue with the “anti-vaxxer” label, which they both say is a term meant to shut down debate and scientific research. 

“He’s not an anti-vaxxer; he’s just someone who takes vaccine injuries seriously,” she said. 

In an interview with the New York Times last month, Shanahan said she wanted more screening of risks for vaccinations

“I do wonder about vaccine injuries,” she said in the interview, while also saying she was “not an anti-vaxxer.” 

“I think there needs to be a space to have these conversations,” she told The Times. 

Shanahan shares a daughter, Echo, with ex-husband, Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Echo was diagnosed with autism at a young age, and Shanahan has said she spends about 60 percent of her time researching the causes and potential cures for autism. 

In the Newsweek interview, Shanahan said she “wholeheartedly attributes” her daughter’s autism to “environmental toxins.” 

During her introductory speech as Kennedy’s vice-presidential pick earlier this week, Shanahan elaborated that she considers “pharmaceutical medicine” to be among the toxins making children sick.  

Shanahan called for further research into “every possible cause of the chronic disease epidemic” while questioning the “cumulative impact” of prescriptions and vaccines on children’s health.  

“Pharmaceutical medicine has its place, but no single safety study can assess the cumulative impact of one prescription on top of another prescription, and one shot on top of another shot on top of another shot, throughout the course of childhood,” Shanahan said. 

Claims that childhood vaccines have contributed to an increase in autism prevalence have been discredited by the scientific and public health community. 

Shanahan has said there should be more research into the combined impact of vaccines and other medication on child health. 

“We just don’t do that study right now and we ought to. We can and we will. Conditions like autism used to be one in 10,000. Now here in the state of California it is one in 22,” Shanahan said in her Tuesday campaign speech.  

Asked to clarify whether she believes there is a link between vaccines and autism, the Kennedy-Shanahan campaign said: “As Ms. Shanahan said in her speech Tuesday, she believes it is a confluence of exposures that have led to the increase in autism rates for children. The Kennedy/Shanahan ticket will embolden scientists to find the root causes of autism and other childhood chronic diseases.”

Experts have repeatedly found there is no evidence supporting a link between vaccines and autism. The key research papers that made the link were later retracted, and the author was discredited after it was revealed his studies were manipulated. 

In a separate Newsweek interview earlier this year, Shanahan said her daughter has all of the usual childhood vaccines. 

Kennedy has a long history of questioning the safety of vaccines and promoting false claims that undermine public trust, including the debunked link to autism. He took a leave of absence as leader of the anti-vaccine organization Children’s Health Defense to run for president.  

Vaccine skepticism is on the rise across America, as are measles cases.

Kennedy has sought to downplay his contributions to the anti-vaccine movement amid his run for president— though he has included a number of anti-vaccine activists as part of his campaign.