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Should celebrities' vaccine choices affect your life?

Updated on May 4, 2014

Kristin Cavallari is being scrutinized for her anti-vaccination stance, and Jenny McCarthy saw her Twitter hashtag backfire as pro-vaccine folks used it to share their own views. Medical decisions should be yours alone, but what if your choice affects others?

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Kristin Cavallari says that her choice to not vaccinate should be her choice alone, but others counter that some medical decisions are more far-reaching than within one's own family. With Jenny McCarthy's recent Twitter backlash and Cavallari's televised interview with former MTV VJ Kennedy, anti-vaccination views from celebrities are once again being ridiculed and minimized. A popular (and oft-cited) study that came out in support of a vaccine-autism connection has been debunked, but some remain unconvinced. However, not all who avoid or delay vaccines are doing it for this highly-publicized reason. Do the words of celebrities carry more weight than they should?


What do you think?

Should celebrities keep quiet on their vaccination choices?

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Vaccination and public health

Vaccination is lauded as an essential part of public health. Immunizations not only help protect your child, but also those who are too young for vaccines and other at-risk populations, such cancer patients or other immunosuppressed populations — this is known as herd immunity. If most members of the public are vaccinated, then there is less of a chance that an unvaccinated person will acquire the disease.

When a parent decides to abstain from vaccinating their child, they are relying on this herd immunity to keep their child safe and disease-free. If celebrity moms decide against vaccines, some feel that the health of the public can be affected, particularly since the weight of a celebrity's word can heavily influence others.


Should it be a mom's choice?

I don't personally agree with the frequency and number of shots given to our smallest family members and decided to delay my youngest's daughters immunizations for some time. Now we're getting her vaccinated and we are spreading them out so that she is caught up by kindergarten.

When she was small, I didn't feel that anyone else should have a say in what risks I exposed my infant to at a certain age. On the other hand, I realize that working together as a society, we do have a responsibility to help maintain a level of herd immunity, and by not vaccinating altogether, public health is at risk. I weighed everything together to come up with a plan to protect her as well as reduce the number of vaccinations she received when she was very small.

While the decision to vaccinate is historically a personal one, I have to wonder if it really is a personal choice after all. It is a difficult choice to make for some, but when you're a celebrity, your words may carry more weight than others.

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