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Kristen Bell among celebs pushing back against anti-vaxxer peers

Actress Kristen Bell in a 2014 file photo.
Actress Kristen Bell in a 2014 file photo.

Jenny McCarthy and Alicia Silverstone have publicly shared their concerns about vaccines, but fellow celebrity moms are pushing back against their anti-vaxxer peers.

Actress Kristen Bell made global headlines after she said she’s told friends they can’t hold her baby unless they’ve been vaccinated.

“It’s a very simple logic: I believe in trusting doctors, not know-it-alls,” she told the Hollywood Reporter.

“When Lincoln was born [in March 2013], the whooping cough epidemic was growing and before she was 2 months old, we simply said [to friends], ‘You have to get a whooping cough vaccination if you are going to hold our baby,’” she said.

Her comments are timely: right now, there is a growing outbreak of measles in Toronto; meanwhile, the United States is grappling with its own outbreak stemming from Disneyland and a day care in Illinois.

READ MORE: Anti-vaccination movement means preventable diseases making a comeback

Keep in mind, measles, mumps, whooping cough and chicken pox are all preventable with vaccines and were virtually wiped out in North America.

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But they’re slowly resurfacing and doctors are pointing to one culprit: a steadily growing anti-vaccination movement.

“When people say some of this might be related to low vaccine rates among people, that’s a huge understatement,”Dr. Gerald Evans, a Queen’s University medicine professor and director of infection control at Kingston General Hospital, told Global News.

“It’s all because of vaccination rates falling. It’s 100 per cent blamed on the fact that people aren’t getting vaccinated,” Evans said.

READ MORE: Read Roald Dahl’s call for vaccination after his daughter died of measles

Hillary Rodham Clinton also joined Bell in her pro-vaccination stance:

Her tweet came after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said that parents should have a choice in deciding whether to vaccinate their kids. He ended up clarifying his comments, suggesting that with measles, there’s no question that kids should be vaccinated.

In her new parenting book released last year, Clueless star Alicia Silverstone urged parents not to vaccinate their kids.

READ MORE: ‘Clueless’ actress Alicia Silverstone joins anti-vaxxer movement

The actress, author and mom to two-year-old son Bear Blu says the shots are basically “aluminum and formaldehyde.” Her son relies on a healthy vegan diet and hasn’t had a “drop of medicine,” she said.

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“While there has not been a conclusive study of the negative side effects of such a rigorous one-size-fits-all, shoot-‘em-up schedule, there is increasing anecdotal evidence from doctors who have gotten distressed phone calls from parents claiming their child was ‘never the same’ after receiving a vaccine,” Silverstone writes in her warning to parents.

“And I personally have friends whose babies were drastically affected this way.”

Jenny McCarthy, whose son was diagnosed with autism in 2005, publicly said that vaccinations may have triggered his disorder.

READ MORE: Jenny McCarthy backtracking on anti-vaccination, but is it too late?

Last year, she ended up backtracking: In an op-ed published in the Chicago Sun Times, McCarthy said that she’s “pro-vaccine.” It’s just that she was misbranded and misunderstood, she suggests.

“I believe in the importance of a vaccine program and I believe parents have the right to choose one poke per visit. I’ve never told anyone to not vaccinate,” McCarthy said.

In a previous interview with Global News about how to reverse an anti-vaxxer movement, Dr. Ran Goldman said that the Internet is key.

READ MORE: How should health officials reverse an anti-vaxxer movement?

He’s cognizant of where the health care system may have gone wrong in reaching out to parents.

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“The anti-vaccination movement is using very proficiently the online platform. They’re able to spread stories that are usually very rare or very powerful and not always based on any scientific evidence,” Goldman said.

“Jenny McCarthy reaches 250,000 people on one YouTube video. Physicians can use the same medium to get to the same parents and explain the scientific evidence behind immunization. We didn’t play catch up on time,” he said.

carmen.chai@globalnews.ca