IN THE KNOW: Antivaccination movement
It’s not only the controversy over Dengvaxia in the Philippines that is causing parents to shun vaccines for their children. Hollywood stars are also fueling a movement against vaccines, which they associate with autism.
One of the bases for the “antivaxxer” movement is a paper released in 1998 by Andrew Wakefield, a British physician who linked autism and bowel disease to vaccines (measles, mumps and rubella).
Wakefield’s paper was later found to be fraudulent in 2011 but it had already damaged public opinion on vaccines.
In 2007, Jenny McCarthy, former model and cohost of the talk show “The View,” appeared on Oprah and talked about how the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine caused her son’s autism.
McCarthy appeared on different TV shows and was quoted in the media through the years to be against vaccination.
Robert de Niro, who has a son on the autism spectrum, promoted a documentary about the alleged dangers of vaccine.
In June this year, TV and movie actress Jessica Biel lobbied against a bill that would require immunization in Sacramento, California. Under the bill, exemptions to mandatory vaccination would be approved by state health officials, rather than just individual doctors.
Other celebrities who have remained skeptic over the benefits of vaccines include actresses Alicia Silverstone and Jenna Elfman.
Due to “vaccine hesitancy” measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases are on the rise globally.
The World Health Organization has identified vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 threats to global health in 2019.
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