After California passed it’s stricter vaccine laws last week, there was a flutter of indignant celebrities tweeting and twittering about the injustice of it all. There was Jim Carrey (looking more and more kooky) going on with some nonsense about the law being a win for poison, and posting photos of autistic children without their permission. This on the heels of Robert Kennedy, Jr.’s bizarre attachment to the disproven idea that vaccines cause autism and his inexcusable comparison of vaccination to a holocaust in various public comments. I get that celebrities (like the rest of us) really want to find a cause to support and to #hashtag about, but let’s face it: The anti-vaccine stuff is getting old. Really, really old.
So, I would like to direct Mr. Carrey and Mr. Kennedy (and anyone else) to a new set of children’s health concerns that they can focus on. And, unlike the voodoo in vaccines, these are actual threats to our kids’ health.
1. Air Pollution
Hey Jim Carrey, try tweeting this: “Children living in areas with higher rates of airborne pollution have a significantly increased risk of dying before age 1.” Seriously. While there is ZERO evidence that vaccines cause autism, there is an abundance of evidence showing that dirty air makes children sick. Mothers who are exposed to higher levels of C02 during pregnancy are more likely to have preterm birth, children with low birth weight, and children with congenital heart problems. And kids who live in high pollution areas are at greater risk of not only having asthma, but also having much more severe asthma. Real science, real studies and real health problem. Tweet that. #airpollutionkills
Ok celebrity public health advocate. What is considered one of the greatest threats to child health? Nope, its not mercury in vaccines, Mr. Kennedy. It is poverty. That is right. Poverty. Being poor is not good for your health, especially if you are a kid. Roughly 22% of American children live below the federal poverty level and poor kids have higher rates of infant mortality, more frequent and severe chronic diseases, increased obesity and complications, and lower immunization rates. Maybe Jenny McCarthy could start an organization to rescue kids from something they actually need to be saved from? #povertyhurts
3. Food Insecurity
To be fair, this really is part and parcel of #2. But food insecurity is such a large threat to child health in the U.S. that it deserves it’s own celebrity following. Food insecurity is defined as the “inability to provide enough food for a healthy and active lifestyle for all household members.” This is not about kids not getting dessert every night, or having to forego imported organic mangoes. No, this is about children not having enough food to achieve healthy and appropriate nutritional levels. When children do not have enough food to keep them from being hungry, they suffer two-fold. First, physically, their bodies are simply not getting what they need to operate. Second, the have the stress and anxiety of not knowing whether they will be hungry that day or not. #beinghungrysucks
4. Climate change
The climate is changing. Whether you want to blame (as 99% of scientists do) this on man’s actions, or whether you want to chalk it up to the natural cycles of extinction of species, I don’t care. But the fact is, we are facing a planet that is becoming less and less inhabitable. Climate change causes more droughts and more floods. This leads to increased tension over adequate safe water supplies for everyone and affects our ability to grow an adequate food supply. It is also leading to new and migrating vector-borne diseases (think Lyme disease or Dengue Fever) which threaten all of us, including kids (especially, as always, the poorest ones). Rather than spending time pushing movies that make up controversies about vaccines where none actually exists, I want some celebrities to start tweeting about the dying planet and how it affects kids. #itsgettinghotinhere
Not a popular topic, I know. Americans love their guns. Look, we can have safer gun laws in the country without taking away your right to stroke your weapon while watching Duck Dynasty. The fact is, guns kill children. Everyday. American children are nine times more likely to die in gun accidents than children anywhere else in the developed world. That is insane. Let’s put it in perspective. In 2013, 100 children were killed in unintentional shootings in the United States. That is 100 deaths in one year. Between 1988 and 2015 (27 years) there have been 1,164 unverified reports of deaths associated with vaccines across ALL age groups (and most of these have been uncompensated due to a lack of any causal association between vaccine and injury). Which appears to be the bigger threat to the health of a kid? #noammoforcrazypeople.
Celebrity twitterers. Go forth and tweet about things that are actually hurting our kids and leave vaccines — which SAVE children– alone. #vaccineswork
By the way, you can follow me and my tweets at : https://twitter.com/thevaxadvocate