With lawmakers preparing to vote on a bill blocking parents from skipping vaccinations for their children, prominent vaccine skeptic Robert F. Kennedy Jr. arrived at the Sacramento screening of a film linking autism to the vaccine preservative thimerosal and warned that public health officials cannot be trusted.

“They can put anything they want in that vaccine and they have no accountability for it,” said Kennedy, who walked onto and left a Crest Theater stage to standing ovations, of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Wednesday afternoon will see the first hearing for a bill eliminating the personal belief exemption parents can cite in order to avoid vaccinating their kids. Senate Bill 277 was prompted by soaring exemption rates in some schools districts and outbreaks of long-dormant diseases like measles and whooping cough.

Kennedy has credited the film Trace Amounts with helping to persuade lawmakers to halt a vaccination measure in Oregon. Advocates offered free Trace Amounts tickets to every California lawmaker, visiting offices in the State Capitol on Monday to drop them off. Three rows cordoned off for lawmakers sat empty on Wednesday evening, though some staff members attended.

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