Celebrity and Vaccination

“”It is amazing what celebrity can do if you do it with 100 percent good intention and heart.”
– Jenny McCarthy on Oprah.

In 1956, the Polio Vaccine was new and controversial. Then the March of Dimes decided to make the vaccine a major part of its campaign and leveraged its celebrity connections to the cause. This happened.

It’s been a lively few weeks in the anti-anti-vax movement, a movement I support with my own writing (mostly as it intersects with disability and representation. The way that Jenny McCarthy and her ilk talk about autism as a disease to be cured is problematic. Not that the public health issues aren’t also problematic, I just don’t have authority as a writer there).
Measles is surging. Mumps is back. The wife of the Chicago Bears QB (Kristin Cavalleri – I understand she’s a reality TV “star,” but I confess I had never heard of her until now) went on Fox Business and made anti-vax statements. And #JennyAsks would be hilarious – except that I don’t think it persuades anyone in the anti-vax league. I still sometimes get anti-vax emails (I delete them). 
Jenny McCarthy is right. It /is/ amazing what celebrity can do. But intentions and heart matter a lot less than results.
And Elvis?
Elvis is still The King.

3 Replies to “Celebrity and Vaccination”

  1. Adelaide Dupont says:


    It's really hard to find people who talk real talk where public health is concerned.

    Especially as the people involved are down on the ground.

    And epidemiologists are the people to go to for results? Lots of Peer Journals as well.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I really can't stand it when celebrities try to take stances on medical/health issues. They aren't health professionals or experts! Celebrities are only famous for acting/entertainment. Outside of that industry, they are just like everyone else. But it is scary that some people will think that celebrities magically know more than health professionals/they know what is right because of their fame.

    1. David Perry says:

      Yeah, it is scary. And yet Elvis shows us that celebrity can be a force to public health. I don't think we can keep celebrities from broadcasting messages, alas.

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