Jenny McCarthy’s anti-vaccine pediatrician for her son, Evan, is encouraging parents to vaccinate their children against the measles. Dr. Jay Gordon tweeted late last week that “Now is the Time” for parents to vaccinate their child due to outbreaks in multiple states. Gordon has long advocated against vaccines. He falsely believes vaccines cause autism. McCarthy has helped catapult the doctor’s fringe beliefs mainstream.
On February 8, Dr. Gordon tweeted, “If you are living in the midst of a measles outbreak and you have an older unvaccinated child to whom you have been reluctant to give the MMR, now’s the time. There are personal AND public health considerations.”
Gordon practices as a pediatrician in Santa Monica, California. California’s neighbors to the north Oregon and Washington are in the midst of a fast-growing measles outbreak. Low vaccination rates in the two states have contributed to the virus spreading.
Previously vaccine-hesitant parents in Washington and Oregon are running to clinics to vaccinate their children. Clark County reported a 500% increase in requests for MMR vaccines during January.
Now it seems a staunchly anti-vaccine pediatrician is joining the ranks and urging parents to vaccinate their children — Dr. Gordon’s call to action conflicts with his previous statements on vaccines and the measles.
In 2015, Gordon called the measles a “benign childhood illness” in an interview with CBS. The discussion followed an outbreak of measles that started at Disney Land. An infected child visited the theme park, and the virus quickly spread. The Disney Land outbreak infected 147 people and spread to 7 states.
During the interview, Gordon bragged that most of his patients either received vaccines on a delayed schedule or were not vaccinated at all. He told the reporter,
“This measles outbreak does not pose a great risk to a healthy child,” said Dr. Gordon. “And quite frankly I don’t think it poses any risk to a healthy child.”
When a reporter pushed back about the seriousness of the virus, the doctor doubled down on his claims.
“You just said it, they’d get measles,” Dr. Gordon replied. “Not meningitis, not the plague, not Ebola, they’d get measles. Measles is almost an always a benign childhood illness.”
Anti-Vax doctors have long stated that the measles is a benign illness. However, they consistently omit that the virus can lead to severe complications like blindness, deafness, pneumonia, swelling in the brain, and in rare cases, death can occur.
For more than a decade, Dr. Gordon has promoted his anti-vaccine views through the media, his website, and articles he publishes. His relationship with Jenny McCarthy has allowed his views on vaccines to become more well known. McCarthy believes her son is ‘vaccine injured’ and has autism from the MMR.
Through the platform she amassed from her days on MTV, Playboy, and The View, McCarthy continues to push the false belief that vaccines contain toxic additives that damage children. She regularly pushes her views on vaccine dangers on her Sirius XM radio show.
Her outspokenness on vaccines has created a generation of parents that are scared of autism. She’s expanded her voice by authoring books on “healing” and “curing” autism. As a result, children around the country are needlessly harmed and abused by their parents based on her recommendations.
There have been more than a dozen studies that prove vaccines do not cause autism. The CDC has an entire page on its website debunking the belief that vaccines cause autism. However, Gordon and McCarthy distrust the research.
Dr. Gordon has helped McCarthy shape her views on vaccines. In blog posts on his website, he discusses vaccine injuries, autism, and the ‘dangers’ of vaccines. When California introduced a bill to end personal exemptions for vaccines, the doctor testified against the bill. The bill SB 277 became law in June 2015.When the law went into effect, Gordon reluctantly updated his website on the news. He posted the vaccine schedule and provided details for all age ranges. For parents that wanted to seek medical exemptions for their children, he said the clinic would review them through an application process.
With previous outbreaks, Dr. Gordon has consistently downplayed the severity of the virus. He’s never swayed in his claims that vaccines are unnecessary. His patients have been able to hide inside the herd and remain protected from preventable illnesses.
However, the vaccination rates around the country have dropped consistently for years. Several states have vaccination rates lower than what is necessary to achieve herd immunity. As more and more parents refuse vaccines, Dr. Gordon’s patients can no longer hide.
This reality could be why he is now doing an about-face on vaccines. By encouraging parents to vaccinate their children, he’s admitting that vaccines work and are effective.
Followers of Gordon quickly pointed out his hypocrisy and questioned his motives. Many seemed shocked that the doctor would suggest vaccinating.
Gordon responded to only one person about his altered point of view. After 11 years of pushing anti-vaccine rhetoric, the doctor admitted he’s become more moderate about vaccines.
Gordon’s shocking reversal on vaccines will give many within the anti-vaccine movement a moment to pause.
Will his biggest ally Jenny McCarthy have a “come to Jesus” moment and admit vaccines are effective and safe?
Are other anti-vaccine doctors willing to come forward and admit the error of their thinking?
Will this propel more parents to realize the danger they put their children in by opting out of vaccines?
These questions remain unknown. However, Gordon’s tweet will likely have a ripple effect in the anti-vaccine movement. Obviously, the most radical will not change their minds on vaccines. However, he might compel the parents that have sat on the fence for years and remained hesitant about vaccines to immunize their children.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
She co-hosts the YouTube show, “The Smoking Nun,” with Kyle Curtis. The show airs weekly and tackles pseudoscience, current events, and crime stories.
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