Celebrities and vaccines

If we appreciated scientists and educators that same way we appreciate movie stars, rock stars and sports heroes then we might be able to stay out of messes like this one:

Dumb and Dumber Star Jim Carrey Sparks Blog Outrage Over MMR

Large scale studies such as the one found here provide conclusive evidence that there is NOT a link between MMR vaccines and autism.  Despite the concensus of the scientific community on this issue, inaccurate information conveyed by celebrities such as Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy has scared parents into choosing to not vaccinate their children.  The result?  Diseases that were being held at levels close to eradication are again on the rise.  

Fortunately, stars like Amanda Peet  are encouraging parents to vaccinate their kids.  I still think it’s unfortunate that parents are getting their vaccination information from stars instead of scientists, but hopefully Amanda’s publicity on the issue will help.  


10 thoughts on “Celebrities and vaccines

  1. The one point I sorta agree with of theirs is that (as far as I could tell) there has not been a study evaluating the TOTAL effects off all the vaccines that early in life. I am not convinced at all about the link to autism, but it is a large immunological load early in life. I just kinda wonder what effects it might have. I also wonder how on earth you could do an experiment to test that since you don’t really know what you are testing for. Meh… stupid science and its whole need to “prove” things with “evidence”… bah…

    (for reference, I am also working on my PhD in science/engineering and say that last sentence with lots of sarcasm… I like evidence… a lot… more than I should really…)

    • Comparatively, it’s not a large immunological load. Children are exposed to far more viruses in daily life than they receive from vaccines. Additionally, the immunological load in vaccines has decreased over the years with advances in protein chemistry and recombinant DNA technology. Despite a greater number of individual vaccines given, the combined number of immunological components is less than a tenth of what it was 25 years ago.

      In any case, the only way you could ethically investigate the total effects of all vaccines early in life would be epidemiological research, such as a longitudinal cohort study. I would be very surprised if several of these studies were not already in the works.

      (I’m working on my phd in nutrition, but I have an interest in the autism/vaccine controversy, so I try to keep up on it.)

      P.S. Hi Kelly!

  2. Just adding to my comment because I think I am unclear. I was attempting to joke about how science prevents you from doing experiments just for curiosity sake as you (if smart, or at least not wasteful) is that each proper experiment has a hypothesis which is to be proved or disproved. I really wasn’t so clear… note to self… sleep before commenting.

    • Sorry about that! I’ll read the whole thread next time. 🙂 *slack cut*

      But true that. Isolating variables mumble. Statistical analysis gumbles. SPSS mumble grumble.

  3. No matter other posited effects of vaccines, it is pretty well established – despite ignorant wishes it were otherwise – that vaccines do not cause autism. Further, it is readily apparent (statistics alone speak huge volumes) that those same vaccines save a tremendous number of lives and greatly improve overall quality of living. That load beginning early merely means less infant fatality, in the end. Measels and mumps and other diseases making a comeback is the result of not immunizing. Want to live in a world with polio and smallpox again? Vaccines benefit all of humanity. Refusing them is akin to saying you want to go back to cooking over an open fire and using an outhouse. Sure, it can be done – and often is recreationally – but few want that to be a permanent fixture in their lives. Sad how often the information age spreads disinformation as readily as truth. Sadder still that people will take the word and advice of someone whose skill set consists of behaving in a fashion that is not genuine and of making people laugh – rather than finding and heeding those who have done the hard work necessary for actual knowledge of a given topic.

  4. On a stylistic note, I would like to comment on the article title — Dumb and Dumber? Fo reals? You couldn’t have picked something from this decade, like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind?

  5. I’m a third year medical student. I heard this story about the father of one of the pediatric residents, who happens to also be a pediatrician. When parents don’t want to get vaccinated citing Jenny McCarthy, he pulls out the Playboy she posed in and asks them who they’d prefer to take medical advice from: him or this lady.

  6. As the father of a child with autism, and a person with some training in science and a healthy skeptic, I have certainly thought much about this issue.

    No one can dispute that, as a public health matter, the population is healthier with vaccines. The statistics are absolutely clear on that point. We can debate when to administer them, or how much (and I think some components of the vaccination schedule merit debate on these points, since they seem to have been chosen based on convenience rather than risk), but the epidemiological statistics are irrefutable.

    The problem is, parents aren’t required to do what is statistically best for the population, nor do they have any desire to do so. Their one concern, their *sole* concern, is the health of their own children. So any argument based on population statistics will fail if it cannot be framed in the context of *the parent’s own children*.

    If you’re really interested in this stuff, read Dr. Bob Sears’ _The Vaccine Book_:


    This is an extremely impartial and nonalarmist look at vaccination that analyzes vaccines from a standpoint of risk & reward. The thesis is pretty simple — if the risk of side effects is fairly high (as vaccine risks go), and the reward is low (i.e. the disease isn’t very dangerous, or it requires an exceptional set of circumstances to be exposed), then the vaccine needs to be delayed or spread out until the risk is ameliorated.


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