Andre the Giant may have a posse, but Jenny McCarthy has a body count. At least according to TV producer Derek Bartholomaus, who has been tracking vaccine preventable illnesses in the U.S. and blaming Jenny for them since she first went on Oprah to support the theory that vaccines cause autism.
And some of you thought I was being mean to her last week after she called the Lancet’s retraction of Andrew Wakefield’s controversial autism research “censorship”.This guy really has it in for the celebrity-turned-activist.
The Jenny McCarthy body count lays almost 500 deaths at Jenny’s feet, and thousands of illnesses. Even the dude who runs it acknowledges that Jenny isn’t actually directly responsible for all those tragedies. There was a large vaccine resistance movement before she ever took on the cause.
In fact, anti-vaccination propoganda is as old as vaccination itself. The first vaccines had to be administered in secret because the authorities in Boston, where the technique was pioneered, outlawed the practice. There were riots over it in the first smallpox epidemic to hit the city after vaccination was invented.
People have continued to oppose routine childhood vaccination ever since. Some for religious reasons, some because of health concerns, some just because they don’t like the government telling them what to do with their kids.Vaccination rates rise and fall. Recently, the anti-vaccine side has surged in popularity, and we’re seeing the lowest rates of vaccine compliance in a generation.
It’s hard to gauge how much of that is Jenny McCarthy’s doing and how much she’s just part of a larger cultural trend toward alternative medicine. Jenny is certainly a very compelling spokesperson for this strange cause, and she has a very large soapbox to stand on.
This is why I feel perfectly justified in being mean to her when she mouths off about the many-times-over disproven link between vaccines and autism. It’s one thing to make that mistake in the privacy of your own home. It’s quite another to make it on Oprah.
Jenny has set herself out as some kind of authority on autism and vaccine safety, and the simple truth is she just doesn’t know what the hell she is talking about. In addition to calling her out for encouraging people not to vaccinate, Derek Bartholomaus uses his site to educate the public a little about the realities of vaccines and illnesses. He’s not exactly an expert either, being a TV producer, but he seems to have done somewhat better homework.
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