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McCarthy on Vaccinations

May 7, 2009

In Slate, there is a piece lamenting the new entertainment deal signed between Jenny McCarthy and Oprah giving McCarthy a blog on Oprah’s web site and, potentially, creating an opportunity for her own TV show. The concern is that, lately, McCarthy is most well known for promoting the idea that autism is caused by vaccinations. I’ve written about this topic before here. The concern is that the very real and profound fear that parents have for their children is being used to justify fear of vaccines…vaccines that the medical establishment in this country insists are necessary for the health and safety of our nation’s kids. Below is a quote from the article, from a physician whose life’s work is caring for children:

McCarthy’s popularity has created a lot of anger and disbelief in that tiny sliver of society that believes in evidence-based medicine. One person who’s feeling particularly frustrated is David T. Tayloe, president of the 60,000-member American Academy of Pediatricians. (Remember them? A pediatrician is a person with a medical degree who takes care of children. Some of them are said to trust science more than celebrities when it comes to health care.)

“I think show business crosses the line when they give contracts to people like Jenny McCarthy,” Tayloe says. “If you give her a bully pulpit, McCarty is going to make people hesitate to vaccinate their children. She has no medical or scientific credentials. It disturbs us that she’s given all these opportunities to make her pitch about vaccines on Oprah or Larry King or U.S. News or whatever. We have to scramble to get equal time—and who wants to see a gray-haired pediatrician talking about a serious topic like childhood vaccines when she’s out there blasting the academy and blasting the federal government?”

I was going to title this post, “The Vaccine Debate”. But I didn’t because there isn’t. Those physicians who are responsible for helping children, the government agencies that are responsible for funding research to protect children and those scientists who are researching the causes for the terrible growth of autism in children all have concluded the same thing: that vaccinations do not cause autism.

Is an open and skeptical debate over science and government funding of research a good and necessary thing? Of course. Are we all entitled to our opinions, especially when the issue is childrens’ safety? Of course. But not all of those opinions should be granted equal weight, especially with regard to public health. In that arena, it is the opinion of the head of the American Academy of Pediatricians that matters, not the one from the actress who once had her own show on MTV.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. john permalink
    May 7, 2009 5:03 pm

    This isn’t a new or profound idea or anything but: people, especially stupid people, will cling to an absurd explanation rather than admit powerlessness. McCarthy’s specific type of idiocy is made possible by people subscribing to this ridiculous notion: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” Which evidently was never said by Voltaire, but attributed to him in a biography (I just found that out). I will not defend to the death the right of people to be wrong. There is nothing liberating or democratic about being wrong. Jenny McCarthy is wrong, and responsible people have an obligation to shut her up.

  2. May 11, 2009 12:23 pm

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