Do you trust celebrities for vaccine advice?

Jenny McCarthy is a former Playboy bunny but many people know her for her autism advocacy against vaccines. While McCarthy is not an academic or vaccine expert, 24 percent of parents in a recent University of Michigan survey said they trusted celebrities like her for vaccine information.

Researchers were interested in assessing which sources about vaccines parents trust and how best to disseminate evidence about vaccine safety. The study was published online this month in the journal “Pediatrics.”

From Time

“Most parents reported they relied on their child’s doctor for accurate information. But the opinions of friends, relatives, public health officials and nurses were also considered, according to a national survey of 1,552 parents of children under 18 that asked them to rate the degree to which they trusted various sources of information about vaccines using the following terms: a lot, some or none. (More on A Little-Known Problem in Children With Autism: Wandering Away)…”

“Most parents — 76% — ranked their doctor’s advice highest, but 67% placed “some” trust in family and friends and 65% trusted parents who thought vaccines had harmed their children. Just 2% of parents trusted celebrities “a lot,” but 24% trusted them to “some” extent.”

“ ‘It’s great that parents trust physicians as their primary source for vaccine information, but it’s terribly concerning that 24% of parents have some trust in information provided by celebrities,’ says Gary Freed, chief of the Division of General Pediatrics and director of the Child Health Evaluation and Research (CHEAR) Unit at the University of Michigan. (More on Time.comBill Gates Chats With CNN’s Sanjay Gupta About the Vaccines-Autism Myth)”

Who do you trust for vaccine information? Do you find Jenny McCarty credible? What about other celebrities?

Do you trust celebrities for other advice about parenting or health?

Do you have a mom friend that you trust the most for health advice? (Keith, my former fill-in host, is definitely my brain trust. I think she is so smart with all things kids.)

– Theresa Walsh Giarrusso, Momania. I have increased my Twitter activity. I am sending out great stories for moms each day focusing on health, fitness, sex, entertainment, food, travel and obviously parenting! So follow me on Twitter at @AJCMOMania!)

30 comments Add your comment


April 27th, 2011
12:32 pm

No. I don’t really care about celebrities. Or their opinions.


April 27th, 2011
12:32 pm

The only opinion about medical stuff I need is my Mom’s. She is a retired nurse.


April 27th, 2011
12:36 pm

I trust their opinions on nothing other than their craft.

I respect Danny Glover’s opinion on acting, Celine Dion’s on being a vocalist, and Jenny McCarthy’s on making money by being a no-talent whore, but their opinions on anything else mean very little.


April 27th, 2011
12:37 pm

TWG, did I get filtered?

Enemas for the Hungry

April 27th, 2011
12:52 pm

If you trust the word of a pseudo celebrity(posing nude is not worthy of major celeberity status)more than a trained healthcare professional, then good luck. Remember, you are ruining the lives of your children with your obtuse perspective.


April 27th, 2011
12:56 pm

Anyone who would trust a celebrity over people in the medical and scientific fields who have studied for years and actually have some idea of what they’re talking about, is really far, far, FAR too stupid to be a parent. Unfortunately stupidity seems to almost guarantee fertility. Whenever I think of Jenny McCarthy, all I can think of is the photo of her sitting on the toilet in a pair of Candies shoes and an interview I read with her where she discussed how much she enjoyed lighting farts. Hmmm -not taking her advice on ANYTHING.


April 27th, 2011
12:56 pm

I say do your own research. Don’t just rely on the doctor. Most of the times, they just throw a pill at you……

There is so much information on the web. I don’t want to take pills, so I look for other solutions, mostly holistic. I do have to take a blood pressure pill, but that’s it!!!


April 27th, 2011
12:57 pm

Trust? No way. Appreciate her passion for what she thinks is right? Yes.

I did my own reading on vaccines, formula, sleep patterns – pretty much anything baby-related that I needed to learn about. I also talked to our pediatrician and my Mom. Between those sources, everything worked out. Common sense seems to go a long way, too…

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

April 27th, 2011
1:04 pm

hey guys — i’ve got two blogs running concurrently — news story out that 1 in 4 U.S. kids raised by single parents now!!! see the link for more info


April 27th, 2011
1:04 pm

List of things that I want from celebreties:

1) Make me laugh
2) Sing me a song
3) Act in a movie or play
4) Catch the ball
5) Hit the ball
6) Shut the he!! up and repeat 1 through 5


April 27th, 2011
1:13 pm

I don’t have any more faith in the word of a celebrity than I do the lady in line in front of me at the DMV. I do a lot of research on different topics, read the pros and cons, talk to family & friends, etc in addition to talking to my doctor. I trust my general doctor as well as my son’s but I have met some whom I didn’t. One of the things that I like about my son’s doctor (an older man) is that he has no problem recommending a home remedy or over the counter medicine instead of “prescription of the month club” selection that is no better than OTC but 100 times the cost.

Jake Crosby

April 27th, 2011
1:17 pm

Question to the author of this piece:

Do you find former drug dealers and burglars who bit police officers credible?

Lady Strange

April 27th, 2011
1:45 pm

I agree with shaggy!


April 27th, 2011
2:06 pm

The Doctor from Michigan, Gary Freed was in hot water. In October he released a survey which said 9 out of 10 parents ranked vaccine safety as the number 1 childhood public health issue. Pediatricians were livid. They told him to reframe the question. This is what was done and refered to above.


April 27th, 2011
2:07 pm

LOL Jarvis! I was going to say the same thing, but you beat me to it.


April 27th, 2011
2:09 pm

I’m interested in hearing from celebrities (and nonfamous people) on issues they have experience. Based on scientific study results I’ve read about vaccines and autism (so far it appears there is no link), I disagree with McCarthy’s opinion on vaccines, but I am interested in hearing from her about what treatments and therapies seem to have helped her son. Her family and many others may serve as pieces of this puzzle that hopefully will soon be solved.


April 27th, 2011
2:20 pm

Survey question. Who has helped more autistic kids get better, Jenny MaCarthy’s organization “Generation Rescue” or mainstream pediatricians? Jenny’s group has helped thousands. Mainstream pediatricians have helped zero (this is in addition to causing the actual problem and putting up hurdles for anyone who tries to help).


April 27th, 2011
3:00 pm

I think McCarthy is the biggest idiot to become famous in a VERY long time, and that’s saying a lot when you consider other famous idiots (Brittney Spears, Lindsey Lohan, Paris Hilton). Those other famous idiots at least, are only harmful to themselves. McCarthy has managed to convince people that vaccines are bad for you and that autism can be cured.So she’s not harmful to herself and her child, which I honestly don’t care about, she’s harmful to EVERYONE. She’s harmful to the parents she’s managed to convince of this, plus the rest of us that have to live in the world with these people that don’t vaccinate and put other people’s lives in danger.
I wish she’d STFU and crawl under a rock and never come out.

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April 27th, 2011
3:33 pm

I’ll just ditto JJ instead of rehashing in my own words.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

April 27th, 2011
4:11 pm

@Maggy…how much did it help when Jenny McCarthy recanted her belief that (a) vaccines caused her son’s autism, and (b) her son even had autism in the first place?


April 27th, 2011
5:02 pm

Jenna who? Unless she has a Ph.D in immunology, she has nothing to say that I want to hear on vaccines.

I do wish celebrities would stop getting the idea that just because thousands of brainless people worship them, that makes them SMART.


April 27th, 2011
9:08 pm

DB…thanks for the laugh…it has been a long day…I am going to bed in NJ!

Warrior Woman

April 27th, 2011
9:16 pm

I don’t trust celebrities for their opinion on anything.


April 27th, 2011
10:04 pm

On the whole, it seems like celebs are terrible at managing their own lives. Why would I trust them for advice on anything?

Lena Leusch

April 28th, 2011
6:11 am

I rather trust caring parents than the criminal Pharma industry… /Lena from Sweden


April 28th, 2011
10:31 am

Do you folks trust this?

Acute encephalopathy followed by permanent brain injury or death

Pediatrics. 1998 Mar;101(3 Pt 1):383-7.

Acute encephalopathy followed by permanent brain injury or death associated with further attenuated measles vaccines: a review of claims submitted to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

RESULTS: A total of 48 children, ages 10 to 49 months, met the inclusion criteria after receiving measles vaccine, alone or in combination. Eight children died, and the remainder had mental regression and retardation, chronic seizures, motor and sensory deficits, and movement disorders. The onset of neurologic signs or symptoms occurred with a nonrandom, statistically significant distribution of cases on days 8 and 9. No cases were identified after the administration of monovalent mumps or rubella vaccine.

CONCLUSIONS: This clustering suggests that a causal relationship between measles vaccine and encephalopathy exists as a complication of measles immunization.


April 28th, 2011
7:47 pm

48 out of how many? 48 out of 50 is significant. 48 out 2.5 million is not significant. (I mean that in a statistic sense, not in a personal sense.)

People can die from an allergic reaction to penicillin. Does this mean that no one should take penicillin ever again?


April 28th, 2011
9:48 pm

Methods. The medical records of children who met the inclusion criteria of receiving the first dose of these vaccines between 1970 and 1993 and who developed such an encephalopathy with no determined cause within 15 days were identified and analyzed.

There were 48 cases out of all children who had received the measles vaccine over 23 years. All vaccines, like anything in life come with risks, but this one is very rare.


April 29th, 2011
11:42 am

Trust for medical advice? No, but I don’t trust the AAP & pediatricians to be in my best interests either, especially when they take loads of $ from junk food and pharma companies. But I do trust her as a parent with instincts and who was the closest to the situation yes. Amanda Peet and Jeff Gordon are celebrities that advocate for vaccination, I think Salma Hayek too, why should we believe them as well? Take the celebrity element out of it for a moment, she’s just a mom who’s using whatever forum she can to spread a message that is always crushed by mainstream medicine and the media. She’s very lucky her celebrity affords her a unique opportunity, but so does any other celebrity wanting to say something either pro or anti vax. Twisting 14 studies on 1 vaccine, all of which have major conflicts of interest, to say that there is no autism-vaccine link when 8 other vaccines haven’t been studied is unethical. All she is trying to do is get the program safer and less toxic, which is something everyone should want. Someone said it earlier, GR has done much more than any government group in regards to HEALING autism, so for that she deserves credit.