Breaking news: Anti-vaxxers continue to be startlingly stupid. Darla Shine, who’s married to White House communications director Bill Shine, fired off a spate of anti-vaccination tweets on Wednesday in response to CNN’s coverage of a measles outbreak in Washington state. Nearly 60 people in the northwestern state have been infected with the disease, which was eliminated about two decades ago, because of the increasing number of people who aren’t getting vaccinated. USA Today reports that there is also currently a measles outbreak in New York.
Shine, though, called this coverage “hysteria” and praised the “life long natural immunity” she’s had due to contracting the airborne disease as a child. She even went as far as to say that measles fought cancer, inaccurately citing a CNN article detailing how Stacy Erholtz, who suffered from cancer of the blood, went into remission after being treated with the measles disease.
We know it’s not necessarily done these days, but reading past the headline is pretty key here. It wasn’t simply contracting the measles that cured Erholtz; in fact, scientifically, the treatment wasn’t too far off from how vaccinations work. As per CNN: “Then researchers gave her and five other multiple myeloma patients a dose of a highly concentrated, lab-engineered measles virus similar to the measles vaccine.”
New York University School of Medicine professor Dr. Devi Nampiaparampil appeared on CNN to debunk Shine’s dangerous claims. She said that while we associate the idea of potentially lethal viruses with Zika or Ebola, that’s because we’ve benefited from the herd immunity provided by the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine for so long.
“Measles is just as deadly, so it’s very dangerous, we just don’t think about it as much because of the vaccine. Since we’ve had the vaccine since 1963, we don’t hear about these complications as much,” Nampiaparampil explained on CNN.
She later added that having the vaccine provides just as much protection as immunity through infection: “Her kids, by not being exposed to [measles], they’re actually safer. We don’t necessarily need that immunity because we’ve had the vaccine.”
Please bear in mind, as well, that anti-vaxxer panic has long perpetuated prejudice against people with autism, thanks to a now-discredited article by Andrew Wakefield. Shine and her ilk continue to put the general population at risk.