Jessica Biel swears she's not an anti-vaxxer—she's just opposed to a bill that would tighten mandates on vaccinations.
On Tuesday, the 37-year old actress made an unexpected appearance before the California State Assembly alongside an outspoken anti-vaccination activist, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (the son of Bobby Kennedy). His unfounded and dangerous claims include: vaccines contain toxic amounts of mercury (disproven), vaccines are untested and unregulated (false), and vaccines are somehow associated with autism (100% fantasy).
The anti-vaxxer took to Instagram to post pictures of himself with Biel before they lobbied the California State Senate. He called the actress "courageous" for speaking out against SB 276. The vaccine bill is authored by state senator and pediatrician Dr. Richard Pan, who argues that doctors are abusing the medical exemptions that allow parents to use a doctor's note to forego vaccinations. The bill calls for more oversight that would prevent doctors from selling exemptions to parents who don't have a medical reason for not vaccinating their children.
So did Jessica Biel come out as an anti-vaxxer? Back in 2015, rumors circulated that she was refusing to vaccinate her then-7-month-old son. But the only source was an unnamed associate of Biel and her husband, Justin Timberlake, who alleged to a tabloid, "She feels that vaccination could cause complications."
On Thursday, Biel addressed the rumors with a lengthy Instagram post in which she outright denied, "I am not against vaccinations." She clarified: "I support children getting vaccinations and I also support families having the right to make educated medical decisions for their children alongside their physicians. My concern with #SB276 is solely regarding medical exemptions. My dearest friends have a child with a medical condition that warrants an exemption from vaccinations, and should this bill pass, it would greatly affect their family's ability to care for their child in this state. That's why I spoke to legislators and argued against this bill. Not because I don't believe in vaccinations, but because I believe in giving doctors and the families they treat the ability to decide what's best for their patients and the ability to provide that treatment. I encourage everyone to read more on this issue and to learn about the intricacies of #SB276. Thank you to everyone who met with me this week to engage in this important discussion!"
Anti-vaccination lobbyists push dangerous and unfounded myths about potentially life-saving medicine. The World Health Organization (WHO) finds that adverse reactions are as rare as 1 in 2-3 million doses for the polio vaccine, 1 in 1,000 doses to 50,000 for tuberculosis, and 1 in 1 million doses for measles.