I have been talking about the dangers of anti-vaxxers for years, so the recent outbreak of measles that began at Disneyland and has infected more than a hundred people across six states really pisses me off. This is a disease we had almost eradicated 15 years ago, before con man Andrew Wakefield released his bogus -- and long-debunked -- study linking vaccines with autism. Even though his work has been discredited again and again, ignorant celebrities like Jenny McCarthy and Oprah Winfrey fell for it, and spread the lies to gullible people (mostly upscale suburban women), who have endangered herd immunity for the rest of us responsible people.
The anti-vaxxers are directly responsible for the resurgence of measles, which most people aren't even familiar with because they haven't seen it for a generation. While I've not come down with the disease -- because I had the MMR vaccine as a child as well as all the other relevant vaccines as an adult -- I am sickened by some of the people who have fallen for, and continue to spew, the anti-vaxxer hype.
Just the other night, Larry Wilmore was discussing the subject on his "Nightly Show" and one of the panelists was a woman who doesn't allow her children to be vaccinated. At one point, she said, "Do you know that the companies that make these vaccines have made over $40 billion from them?" To which I responded by yelling at my television, "Good! I’m sure the people who make brakes for cars have made a lot of money, too, but that’s not a reason to let your kids get in a car without brakes!"
I told that story this morning on KTRS while talking about the measles outbreak with Dr. Art Caplan, Director of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center, and a frequent guest on my show. Art (who's also more than a little upset with anti-vaxxers) thinks that we should sue the parents of unvaccinated children who then infect our kids.
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Previously on Harris Online...
- Links to stories about anti-vaxxer celebs Mayim Bialik and Rob Schneider.
- Amy Parker's first-person story of how an unvaccinated life can backfire [1/7/14].
- My conversation with Harriet Hall, the SkepDoc, about the importance of vaccines [7/27/13].
- Michele Bachman's dangerous lie about vaccines [9/15/11].
- My conversation with Art Caplan after British medical journal Lancet retracted its report on Wakefield's discredited vaccines study [2/3/10].
- My conversation with Dr. Rosanna Gray-Swain after the introduction of the HPV vaccine,, which prevents cervical cancer [3/1/07].