My children are vaccinated – but I still don’t want them playing with Jessica Biel’s kids

They’ve had their jabs, so they’ll be fine. I’m more worried that her stupidity would somehow wear off on them

Robyn Wilder
Saturday 15 June 2019 16:26
Stephen Colbert mocks anti-vaxxers, alleged Russian interference and Donald Trump in TV monologue

Jessica Biel has one son and I’m sure he’s really nice. I’m sure he has great teeth and, thanks to also inheriting half of Justin Timberlake’s genes, can probably moonwalk and maintain an angelic falsetto.

However, my children are never playing with him.

Not, as you might imagine, because Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake are super-wealthy celebrities who live thousands of miles away from my semi-detached provincial home, but – should the unlikely occasion arise – because Jessica Biel has finally outed herself as an anti-vaxxer, and I don’t want my kids catching anything.

Actually, Biel has specifically said she’s not an anti-vaxxer.

This is after she lent her considerable celebrity weight to oppose a pro-vaccine California state bill, then – possibly in reaction to public criticism – distanced herself from the anti-vaxx movement, announcing she “wasn’t against vaccinations”, but wanted families to make “educated medical decisions for their children”.

So, is Biel an anti-vaxxer or isn’t she? Well, let’s look at the facts.

1. Biel’s own son is unvaccinated.

2. The bill she’s opposing, SB 276, intends to stop families claiming medical exemptions to vaccines without sign-off from a state-approved doctor.

3. According to someone in her meeting with the California state assembly, she called vaccines “dangerous and ineffective”.

Whether Jessica Biel identifies as pro-vaxx, anti-vaxx or Schrodinger’s Anti-Vaxxer – somehow both pro- and anti-vaxx simultaneously – she’s dangerous. Because, like Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy and Donald Trump, she’s using her wide-reaching platform to advocate against vaccinating children. Which, according to leading medical experts, is actually damaging on a global scale.

Cases of measles in unvaccinated children are rising across the world. I have small children, and every couple of weeks I see new measles notices in schools, nurseries and GP surgeries. The UK saw a 400 per cent rise in measles reports between 2017 and 2018. Meanwhile, UK vaccination rates (87.2 per cent) are now well below the figure deemed sufficient by the World Health Organisation to protect a population against disease (95 per cent).

The World Health Organisation lists “vaccine hesitancy” as a major health threat to humanity. Blaming “vaccination deniers”, the NHS is considering making vaccinations compulsory for primary school-aged children. And, following a recent study that suggests measles outbreaks could double in the next few years, scientists have laid the blame solidly with “misleading campaigns claiming vaccinations are dangerous”.

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And this is what celebrities like Biel are claiming – that vaccines contain harmful toxins, and cause autism, and that “natural immunity” is the healthier choice. This may sound reasonable to anyone who may not have all the facts but (quite understandably) probably doesn’t want to risk their kid getting mercury poisoning from an injection they don’t even need.

That there is zero evidence to support their claims (natural immunity, outside of the maternal immunity that protects babies up to four months old, doesn’t really even exist) almost adds fuel to believers’ fires of fervour. Mention research and they rant about conspiracies and “big pharma”. And all the actual science around herd immunity and how it protects us from disease – which is how more vaccinations provide better protection for all – gets lost in the noise.

It seems it is stupidity, and the availability of this stupidity, that is making our kids ill.

The thing is, it’s making anti-vaxxers’ kids ill, too. Of the increased cases of measles in the UK, most of them were among unvaccinated children. And many required hospital treatment.

By lobbying against California’s vaccine bill, Jessica Biel is risking her own family’s health. As Leah Russin from Vaccinate California (one of the bill’s sponsors) pointed out to The Daily Beast, the bill won’t actually prevent children who need medical exemptions from getting them:

“In fact, the people who truly need medical exemptions desperately need everyone else to be vaccinated. Medical advice should be coming from medical professionals. A Hollywood celebrity [...] should not have credibility on an issue about how to regulate the medical profession.”

This is why I don’t want my kids to play with her kid. Not because they might catch measles – my kids are vaccinated – because they might catch stupidity. And there’s quite enough of that going around as it is.

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