In an interview on the Fox Business channel on Thursday, former reality TV show star Kristin Cavallari said that she and her husband, Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, won’t vaccinate their children over fears that vaccines may cause autism.
Cavallari, who is pregnant with her second child, told host Lisa Kennedy Montgomery that she and Cutler hadn’t vaccinated their first son and would not vaccinate their second one once he is born. When Montgomery challenged her by arguing that there is no real evidence showing that vaccines are harmful, Cavallari responded that she had “read too many books about autism” and cited the fact that one in 88 boys are diagnosed with autism today.
Cavallari also said that contemporary vaccines have higher levels of mercury than those in the past did — a common talking point among vaccine truthers — and that one anti-vaccine organization whose members refuse to vaccinate children had seen zero instances of an autism diagnosis.
Cavallari and Cutler have revealed themselves to be part of a burgeoning anti-vaccine movement that is terrifying public health officials. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warn that misinformation about vaccines’ safety is leading to an unprecedented resurgence in contagious diseases that were once practically eradicated in the United States, such as measles, mumps, and whooping cough.
CDC officials point out that in America, 80 percent of measles cases in 2013 presented among people who were never vaccinated, and 80 percent of those people cited “philosophical differences” for forgoing vaccination. Most recently, California health officials had to issue a public warning to Bay-area residents after just one unvaccinated man potentially exposed thousands of commuters to measles that he had contracted in Asia.
Every major global public health organization has repeatedly refuted the notion that vaccinations have any link to autism. But that message isn’t getting through to every parent. Even though childhood vaccine exemptions have a direct relationship to infectious disease outbreaks, more than six percent of kindergartners in some states hadn’t received their shots last year — forcing officials in states with high rates of unvaccinated children, such as Oregon and Washington, to pass laws making it harder for parents who send their kids to public school to refuse vaccinations.