According to a statement provided to NPR by the Mayo Clinic, the study demonstrated "higher protective immune responses in African-American subjects with no evidence of increased vaccine side effects" and that any claim of "'increased vulnerability' among African-Americans who receive the rubella vaccine is simply not supported by either this study or the science."
For her part, Rogers, the Yale professor, only appears for about 14 seconds in the film. Her quotes are accurate. But her remarks are embedded in a wider narrative that she had "enormous problems with"—namely that the anti-vaccine movement is heroically engaged in a new civil rights campaign, one meant to stop experimentation on the Black community.
Rogers says the film uses many of the ideas that she holds "passionately, like health disparities, fighting racism in health, working against discrimination, and it's been twisted for the purposes of this anti-vax movement."
Another credible expert from mainstream medicine also appears in the film: Dr. Oliver Brooks, the immediate past president of the National Medical Association. The group is the largest organization representing African American physicians in the United States.
Brooks says he agreed to be in the film because he wanted to provide balance, but, after seeing it, he now regrets doing the interview.
"The crux of the documentary is generally don't get vaccinated," Brooks told NPR in a recent interview. "There is an understandable concern in the African American community regarding vaccines—however, in the end, my position is you look past those, have an understanding of those and still get vaccinated ... That nuance was not felt or presented in the documentary."
Kennedy's group released the film in early March, just as the COVID-19 vaccine was becoming widely available to the American public.
The movie begins with a string of ominous news clips about the pandemic and the COVID-19 vaccines and includes short interviews with people of color who talk about COVID-19 being "propaganda" and why they don't trust the vaccine. Kennedy also appears to offer a warning to viewers about vaccines: "Don't listen to me. Don't listen to Tony Fauci. Hey, and don't listen to your doctor."
In addition to Kennedy, other producers helped make and market the film, including a prominent figure in the Nation of Islam, and a wealthy entrepreneur who recently made headlines when a private school he co-founded in Miami prohibited teachers who got the COVID-19 vaccine from returning to the classroom.
Children's Health Defense made one of the film's co-producers, Curtis Cost, available to talk with NPR. He is a longtime anti-vaccine activist, who has previously claimed that "viruses do not cause anything, it's a hoax, it's a myth ... whether you are talking about HIV virus, the flu virus or any other virus."
Cost says the film does not explicitly tell people to refuse the COVID-19 vaccine, but it "goes all the way to the present experimentations and bad things have been done by the medical establishment in America and in Africa and other parts of the world."
"The film basically wants people to recognize this history that leads right into the present, and especially when they're facing decisions about whether they should take any vaccine, including COVID," he says.
In an email statement, a spokesperson for Children's Health Defense denies that the film is misinformation and says it contains "peer reviewed science and historical data."