The battle over SB 277, California’s bill mandating that children must be fully vaccinated to enroll in schools or daycare, has been tough, emotional, and completely bonkers, creating a new wave of vocal anti-vaccination activists, some of whom are willing to dox, harass and threaten anyone speaking in favor of it. SB 277 is headed to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk today. Brown hasn’t said publicly whether he intends to sign the bill.
Because this is California, some of the loudest voices against the bill (and vaccination in general) are also famous people—famous people who, as it turns out, have some really interesting ideas on science, health, medicine, biology, the definition of freedom, and how bills become law. (To be clear, no anti-vax celebrity has engaged in harassment or doxxing; they have confined themselves to public speaking, angry tweeting, and occasional Facebook petitioning.)
For your reference, here’s a list of anti-vaccination celebrities, and why, as best we can tell, they’re like that. This list will be continually updated.
Best Known For: Dharma and Greg, and, uh, now this.
Why: Because she believes it infringes on parental rights, and, perhaps, because she’s a Scientologist. The Church says they haven’t taken a position on the legislation, but allowed the Nation of Islam to hold an anti-SB 277 meeting at their Community Center. While they say the Center is available for anyone to use, it’s very difficult to believe that would extend to anyone espousing things they don’t believe in. Scientology is also broadly anti-drug, although they do take prescription medications.
Choice Quotes: Elfman appeared at an anti-vaccination rally in May, where she warned of the dangers of slopes that turn into doors:
“You open up the door of taking away parents’ rights, you open the door to a Constitutional slippery slope.”
On Facebook, Elfman is also circulating a petition urging Brown to veto the bill:
There is no health crisis (unless they care to create one— wait for it....) and frankly, I’m astounded that we have to fight so hard for our parental rights as Americans, IN AMERICA.
Best Known For: Acting, authoring, persistent anti-vaxxin’.
Why: McCarthy says her son is autistic. She has been very clear that she believed vaccines played a role in her son’s condition, although of late she’s stopped discussing it quite so much. She also claimed in 2008, along with Jim Carrey, that they’d cured him with the help of a gluten-free diet.
Choice Quotes: McCarthy has recently begun trying to repair the widespread and entirely accurate notion that she’s responsible for a particular strain of anti-vax nonsense, telling PBS, “We’re not anti-vaccine. We’re pro-safe vaccine schedule.” She adds that her son was definitely injured by vaccines:
I don’t think it was just the MMR shot that caused any kind of trigger with autism. I think it was a compilation of so many shots to a kid that obviously had some autoimmune disorders. So I would say maybe a couple of months, a month or so after the MMR, I started to notice some physical ailments such as constipation, rashes, eczema. That was like the first little sign. And then the train just kind of descended from there.
Best Known For: Pet detecting.
Why: Possibly due to prolonged exposure to Jenny McCarthy. In 2009, he wrote on Huffington Post that vaccines haven’t really been studied for safety (they have): “The truth is that no one without a vested interest in the profitability of vaccines has studied all 36 of them in depth.”
Best Known For:
Why: Seemingly part of her overall natural health/veganism/wellness philosophy, which occasionally tips over into outright silliness. Thinks vaccines are unsafe when given to pregnant women and will cause autism in fetuses (they won’t).
Choice Quotes: Silverstone wrote a parenting book called The Kind Mama that is both anti-vaccination and anti-diaper:
According to Drs. Roizen and Oz…While there has not been a conclusive study of the negative 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. And I personally have friends whose babies were drastically affected in this way.
Best Known For: Cocaine and alleged violence against women.
Why: Honestly, who knows why Charlies Sheen does anything.
Choice Quotes: Not a quote, exactly, but he was reportedly so furious that Denise Richards won a battle to vaccinate their daughters that he paid their pediatrician in nickels.
Best Known For: Cheers, being a person who has gained and lost weight yet really hates “circus fat” people.
Why: Unclear. But interestingly, Alley is also a Scientologist.
Best Known For: Lots of things, but mainly this brilliant Bobby Finger gif.
Why: According to her Twitter, because of parental choice, and despite the fact that her child has “weak immunity.”
Best Known For: Giving us literally years of hilarity.
Why: Why break an unblemished record of being wrong about stuff?
Best Known For: Something, certainly.
Why: Parental rights, general government distrust, Big Pharma suspicion.
Choice Quotes: Got pulled from a State Farm ad campaign in 2014 for explicitly linking vaccines and autism: “The efficacy of these shots have not been proven. And the toxicity of these things—we’re having more and more side effects. We’re having more and more autism.”
Oh yeah, Rob’s all the way in this:
Miranda Bailey (right)
Best Known For: Actor, producer, documentarian.
Why: “Nobody tells me what to do”-ism.
(While Hepatitis B is sexually transmitted, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends the first vaccine shot be given at birth, to ensure immunity. Which is. The point. Of vaccines.)
Best Known For: Environmental advocacy, giving PG&E hell.
Why: Personal freedom, understandable mistrust of the government. Still, this one is a little heartbreaking.
Update, July 1: On Twitter, Brockovich informs us she cannot rightly be referred to as “anti-vaccination” since she chose to vaccinate. She’s just arguing, along with Jim Carrey, for freedom of vaccination choice:
Individual families picking and choosing whether or not to vaccinate, or which vaccinations to get, damages herd immunity. Requiring vaccination is not the government bossing you around — it’s a common sense measure to protect public health. It’s the right thing to do. It’s how we eradicated polio. Brockovich is cool as hell, but in this instance, she is wrong.
Best Known For: That ‘70s Show, which we don’t recall well enough to make any kind of joke about.
Why: I mean, hey, who could possibly know, although Masterson is also a Scientologist.
Best Known For: General quirkiness, being surprisingly metal.
Why: Dunno! But Lewis, coincidentally, is also a Scientologist.
Choice Quotes: Several tweets and re-tweets of an anti-SB 277 petition, a now-deleted Instagram about freedom of choice:
Best Known For: Continual Bill Mahering on every platform.
Why: Just to be a Maher, it seems.
Choice Quotes: Told Playboy vaccines are no longer necessary:
“I’ve never argued that vaccines don’t work. I just don’t think you need them. There are so many maladies now that used to be rare and now are much more prevalent—things like allergies, ADD, asthma, migraines, autoimmune disorders, chronic fatigue, colitis, more colds. I’m not saying vaccines cause any of them, but the modern immune system might be less robust than it used to be because it doesn’t get its full workout going through a disease like the measles. I’m glad vaccines exist, just like I’m glad antibiotics exist, but we’ve abused the hell out of them. Bugs that no antibiotic works on anymore? I worry about that a lot more.”
There are no vaccines for uh, allergies or colitis. That’s not a thing, Bill.
Also interviewed Robert F. Kenndy Jr. on his program, who still thinks vaccines cause autism, has compared administering them to a “holocaust”, and will tell anybody who sits still long enough, in this case Bill Maher:
Best Known For: Having a 500-day recurring feature about her doings.
Why: Hollywood person version of natural health, autism fears, Jenny McCarthyitis
“You know, at the end of the day, I’m just a mom. There are very scary statistics out there regarding what is in vaccines and what they cause — asthma, allergies, ear infections, all kinds of things. We feel like we are making the best decision for our kids.”
Best Known For: NYPD Blue, La Bamba, activism for non-insane environmentalist and Latino issues.
Why: Seemingly part of a broader distrust in GMOs, hidden government agendas, the UN’s supposed plan to depopulate the world, etc.
Choice Quotes: Much of the non-work related stuff Morales tweets about is vaccination and how it fits into the broader scheme of total government domination:
Additional reporting contributed by Pfizer Pfan Natasha Vargas Cooper
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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All photos via AP Images