Antivaccine nonsense Autism Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Quackery

Thanks, Jenny McCarthy

The other day, I sarcastically “thanked” Andrew Wakefield for his role in making sure that measles is again endemic in the U.K. At the same time I wondered whether in 5 to 10 years I’d be similarly “thanking” Jenny McCarthy for her role in doing the same thing here in the United States.

It looks as though I won’t have to wait five years:

At least 127 people in 15 states have come down with the measles, the biggest outbreak in the United States in more than 10 years, Reuters reported.

Cases started springing up in May, when more than 70 people in a dozen states became ill. According to federal health officials, most of the victims were not vaccinated against the highly contagious virus.

In a statement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the outbreak has been traced to travelers who became sick overseas, returned to the United States and infected others.

The news comes on the heels of public health officials’ stressing the importance of immunizing children.

“What concerns me is the trend of more and more people not vaccinating their children because of fears that vaccines cause autism — although no studies have proven this to be true,” Dr. Joseph Rahimian, an infectious disease specialist at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan, told in May.

Last month British health officials said measles had become an epidemic in that country for the first time since the mid-1990s due to parents not getting their children vaccinated.

“With the whole debate about vaccines — and now parents due to their personal beliefs not vaccinating their children — what we are seeing now is that we are going to have these epidemic outbreaks throughout the country,” said Dr. Manny Alvarez, managing editor of health at

“If this continues, we will see outbreaks throughout the entire developed world — something we have never seen before,” he added.

Here’s the kicker:

This latest outbreak comes eight years after the virus was declared practically dead in the United States, thanks to a vaccination program that began in the 1960s.

Antivaccinationist lies spread by activists and their useful idiots in the media have consequences. A disease once thought dead and controlled is resurgent. What other vaccine-preventable diseases will follow? Hib? Pertussis? Polio? Anything’s possible when vaccine rates fall below the threshold for herd immunity.

So, thank you, Jenny McCarthy. I realize that you’ve only been on the anti-vaccine bandwagon about a year now, making it premature to give you the “credit” for this, but you’ve done amazing work whipping up hysteria against vaccines with your “Green Our Vaccines” rally. Indeed, in one short year, you’ve become the face of the American antivaccination movement for better or for worse. Cranks like Mark and David Geier, Boyd Haley, J.B. Handley and Generation Rescue, David Kirby, Dan Olmsted, and the merry band of antivaccinationists now gathered together at Age of Autism all laid the groundwork for this “triumph,” whipping up fear about vaccines and feeding credulous reporters, stroking crunchy doctors to the stars with sympathies to the anti-vaccine movement like Dr. Jay Gordon, and gathering useful celebrity idiots like yourself and your boyfriend Jim Carrey to their cause, all the while proclaiming piously that they are not “anti-vaccine.” There is lots of “credit” to go around, and all of them also deserve their fair measure of our “thanks” for their role in this resurgence. Now, however, if nothing changes, you’ll be the perfect figurehead leader to take us to the promised land before mass vaccination, as you are by far the most recognizable anti-vaccine activist in the country at the moment. I’m sure many will be “thanking” you a few years from now, once measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases once vanquished have become endemic in the U.S. again.

At least we have Amanda Peet on our side. Sadly, it’s probably not enough, but it’s a start.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

Comments are closed.


Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading