Natural Parenting

Jenny McCarthy is Viewless on Vaccinations

Jenny McCarthy’s opinion about parenting inevitably circles back to one idea: vaccinations cause autism. But the facts prove she's wrong—and dangerous.Jenny’s McCarthy’s appointment to the chair vacated by Elisabeth Hasselbeck on “The View” has critics up in arms. The new post gives Jenny McCarthy the opportunity to share her opinions with three million viewers—many of them mothers—each day.

With two books and countless speaking engagements behind her, Jenny McCarthy’s opinion about parenting inevitably circles back to one idea: vaccinations cause autism. But do the facts support her opinion?

Jenny McCarthy’s opinion about parenting inevitably circles back to one idea: vaccinations cause autism. But the facts prove she’s wrong—and dangerous. When my son was born in 1999, the autism debate was in full swing. But after talking at length to our pediatrician, my husband and I decided to innoculate; we continued the practice, separating out the Measles/Mumps/Rubella vaccine into three different shots when vaccinating our two daughters.

Our reasoning went like this: If one of our children contracted an illness that could have been prevented by a vaccine, we had health insurance and access to good health care that could treat it.

But what if our child passed on the illness to another whose family didn’t have coverage—or who lived in another country where health care wasn’t so effective? If the child got sick or—god forbid—died, we would be responsible. And a child’s death was a possibility we couldn’t live with.

So we decided to vaccinate, forming our opinion based on these facts:

Unfortunately, herd immunity isn’t available in every country: Vaccinations have virtually eradicated polio in the United States; in Africa, India and Asia, the virus is still alive.

According to Jenny McCarthy, that’s a good thing: “I do believe sadly it’s going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe,” she told Time magazine. “If the vaccine companies are not listening to us, it’s their f___ing fault that the diseases are coming back.”

No matter that this opinion has been thoroughly discredited:

Yet Jenny McCarthy continues to promote her opinion to a growing audience. According to The Anti-Vaccine Body Count (originally called the Jenny McCarthy Body Count), since the idea of refusing vaccinations in order to prevent autism became popularized in the United States in 2007, more than 1,000 children have died and 100,000 were sickened by illnesses that could have been prevented by vaccines.

In the United States, the anti-vaccination trend could endanger all of our kids: Before vaccinations for the illnesses, whooping cough was a leading cause of death in babies and young children; now that families are choosing not to vaccinate, the virus is on the rise.

Could Jenny McCarthy and “The View” contribute to that problem? Possibly. “Any time she provides her opinion, it results in people listening,” said Amy Pisani, executive director of the non-profit Every Child By Two, to the Los Angeles Times. “I feel that we don’t have any more children to spare.”

My hope is that before she takes her seat at “The View,” Jenny McCarthy will reconsider the facts—and her opinion.

Photo: Los Angeles Times


  • Samantha

    My son is twelve and has Aspergers. My first cousin has low functioning autism. There is a known genetic link . Perhaps if you have a genetic propensity for autism and you receive a vaccine, as a tiny baby you get about 20 under 2 yo, and it wreaks havoc with your weak genetic material. My son was born blue. Many of the psychiatrists and psychologists who he has seen attribute many of his problems of attention deficit, hyperactivity, anxiety, obsessive – compulsive behavior, and perseverations on his birth trauma and his genetic autism. One doctor stated that the birth trauma pushed the weak genetic autism past breaking. My uncle insists that my cousin clearly regressed after the MMR vaccine. Perhaps if you already have genetic autism there could be environmental factors such as receiving a vaccine when your tiny body just can’t handle it that could weaken your genes. It is worth exploring and getting to know the human genome and how environment affects your genes would be worth looking at. As for my son, I am extremely lucky to have him. He has made me a better person. It is not easy, but I would not take away his Aspergers, although I would like to lesson some of his fears and pain from sensory sensitivity, as it would change the incredible person he is. And I did have him vaccinated, I just waited until he was three.

    • Rachel Sarnoff

      Samantha this is so beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing this with me and with the Mommy Greenest community. I love that you celebrate your son in all his beautiful, complicated humanness–as we all should. Thank you thank you for this beautiful perspective.

  • pam

    Marielle, each state has different vaccine requirements and I believe that public schools follow the state requirements. This link is a good place to start to understand those in your state - Some states allow medical, religious or philosophical exceptions to vaccines.

  • Marielle

    I agree that we need to research on the vaccination and the risks. But honestly, not everybody has a degree to understand those medical terms and time to do the research.
    However, parents should be able to say NO and still be allowed to get their children in school. One school is telling me that my kid will not be able to get in if his vaccinations are not up to date. I thought it was not an obligation.
    Can somebody confirm that vaccinations are mandatory to get in public school?
    Many thanks Rachel for your awesome website!

  • Sarah

    As the wife of a man that spends 36 hours a week treating patients in a state run level one trauma center ER it would border on negligent parenting to not have our children vaccinated. We did the full gambit of research when our first son was born and over and over again reading the anti-vaccination articles my husband would shake his head and say “if only people knew how terrible these preventable diseases are they would not hesitate to vaccinate”. Here is a fairly recent story of a small boy who contracted tetanus in NZ who nearly died. Do we really understand how horrible and debilitating things like polio, whooping cough and tetanus really can be? How would you feel watching your child fight against one of these potentially fatal illnesses knowing that you could have helped to prevent it?

    • Rachel Sarnoff

      Thank you Sarah for this perspective. I really am impressed with how many different views we are all bringing to this subject. Thanks for taking the time to read, and to post a comment, as well.

  • pam

    Thanks Tamara for posting links and ingredients to help parents get started. We all need to be educated and should be allowed to make up our own minds about this very touchy subject. I had initially planned to delay vaccinations and change up the schedule. However, the more I read about vaccinations and the “Science” behind them, the more clearly I believed that vaccines aren’t for everyone and that we are likely not told the truth about them. I totally agree with Joey – Money talks! There is quite a bit of fear because if you’re wrong (either way) your child could die. When I clicked to this blog post, I was surprised that a green blog would jump on the “Crazy Jenny” bandwagon and was ready to opt out. I have appreciated the calm, logical conversation – much nicer, way nicer than reading the anger on other blog posts aND articles of the same subject. Someone earlier posted the link to NVIC, another site that’s good for research is Neil Z Miller has written many well researched (and documented) books and articles and this site has been an excellent resource. I also have watched a video of a doctor ( Sherry Tenpenny) walk through how to read the CDC documents and how if you read them thoroughly, you realize 1) that the risks of vaccine injury for some vaccines is greater than the risk from the disease and 2) it wasn’t necessarily vaccines that eradicated Polio or Small Pox. Both were in major decline due to better hygiene and vaccines just finished them up.

  • Tamara

    Nothing “green” or safe about injecting yourself or your child with foreign DNA, Aluminum, Polysorbate 80, formaldehyde, or any of the other horrifyingly toxic ingredients in vaccines today. Choosing not to vaccinate was easy for me because there is not 100% guarantee that they work, but there is a 100% guarantee that they mean injecting known neurotoxins, carcinogens and mutagens into the body. I’m posting links and info to get anyone started on becoming really educated on vaccine ingredients. Here is the list of vaccine ingredients from the CDC. Some ingredients aren’t published due to patenting protection so there may be ingredients that are unlisted.
    For me, some of the most concerning ingredients are polysorbate 80, aluminum, and formaldehyde.
    Polysorbate 80: MSDS sheet for Polysorbate 80 aka Tween 80 “May cause adverse reproductive effects based on animal test data. No human data found. May cause cancer based on animal
    test data. No human data found. May affect genetic material (mutagenic)” “ Treatment with Tween 80 accelerated maturation, prolonged the oestrus cycle, and induced persistent vaginal oestrus. The relative weight of the uterus and ovaries was decreased relative to the untreated controls. Squamous cell metaplasia of the epithelial lining of the uterus and cytological changes in the uterus were indicative of chronic oestrogenic stimulation. Ovaries were without corpora lutea, and had degenerative follicles.”

    Aluminum: MSDS sheet for Aluminum Hydroxide “Acute Potential Health Effects: May cauese mild skin, eye and upper respiratory tract irritaiton. Ingestion: May cause gastrointestinal tract irritation: May affect bones (osteomalacia), metabolism, blood, behavior (muscle contraction, spasticity, change in motor activity), liver.” “Experimental research, however, clearly shows that aluminum adjuvants have a potential to induce serious immunological disorders in humans. In particular, aluminum in adjuvant form carries a risk for autoimmunity, long-term brain inflammation and associated neurological complications and may thus have profound and widespread adverse health consequences.”
    Formaldehyde: MSDS for Formaldehyde “Hazardous in case of skin contact (sensitizer). CARCINOGENIC EFFECTS: Classified A2 (Suspected for human.) by ACGIH, 2A (Probable for human.) by IARC [Formaldehyde]. MUTAGENIC EFFECTS: Mutagenic for mammalian somatic cells. [Formaldehyde]. Mutagenic for bacteria and/or yeast. [Formaldehyde]. Mutagenic for mammalian somatic cells. [Methyl p. 2 alcohol]. Mutagenic for bacteria and/or yeast. [Methyl alcohol]. TERATOGENIC EFFECTS: Classified POSSIBLE for human [Methyl alcohol]. DEVELOPMENTAL TOXICITY: Not available The substance may be toxic to kidneys, liver, skin, central nervous system (CNS). Repeated or prolonged exposure to the substance can produce target organs damage. Repeated exposure to a highly toxic material may produce general deterioration of health by an accumulation in one or many human organs.” And “Very hazardous in case of ingestion, . Hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant, sensitizer, permeator), of eye contact (corrosive), of inhalation (lung corrosive). Slightly hazardous in case of skin contact (corrosive).”
    EPA has listed Formaldehyde as a carcinogen: “Formaldehyde is classified as a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. EPA (11), and as carcinogenic to humans by the World Health Organization (3).”
    Here is a list of the package inserts
    This is a chart of recognized compensated for vaccine injuries, because vaccine manufacturers have been given legal immunity, a vaccine court has been set up to compensate for injuries known to be caused by vaccines, however it is extremely difficult to win a case.
    From here you can access VAERS data, keep in mind that it is commonly said that less than 10% of reactions are actually reported

    Transcripts from court case re: vaccine injury “[n]o vaccine manufacturer shall be liable in a civil action for damages arising from a vaccine-related injury or death associated with the administration of a vaccine after October 1, 1988, if the injury or death resulted from side-effects that were unavoidable even though the vaccine was properly prepared and was accompanied by proper directions and warnings.” “A positive association found between autism prevalence and childhood vaccination uptake across the U.S. population.” “data shows autism is strongly linked to type 1 diabetes another epidemic inflammatory disease where the epidemic has been proven to be caused by vaccines.”

  • Geoff Marcy

    The article isn’t accurate and I disagree with your position Rachel. Jenny isn’t totally anti-vaccines, but she wants people to question the need for all of them and to carefully examine the ingredients, adhere to a reasonable schedule and know all the risks involved. I think Jenny is doing a great job in raising awareness on the dangers. Think for yourself, do some research and don’t blindly accept the information from authority. Remember, vaccines are also a business and if you follow the money and you’ll make some interesting discoveries. There are definitely harmful and unnecessary vaccines out there. Taking control over your health and building a strong immune system through proper diet and lifestyle is the best way to protect yourself in general.

    • Rachel Sarnoff

      Thanks Geoff! I absolutely agree with you about information and a healthy lifestyle. The comments that I’ve read from Jenny McCarthy are what disturbs me in terms of her new influence at “The View.” But I’ll take a closer look at her non-profit, perhaps those comments are no longer things that she stands behind.

      • Geoff Marcy

        Thanks for the opportunity to discuss this Rachel – and the debate is only getting started! The US is one of the most highly vaccinated populations in the world. Autism rates, especially in America are soaring – as high as 1 in 83. Something profound and widespread is causing this and many of the trails point to rising vaccination – some children are now getting over 60-70 vaccines by age 18.

        In 1983, the CDC directed doctors to give a child no more than 4 vaccines (DPT, polio) simultaneously. By 2013, the CDC directed that a child can receive 8 or more vaccines at once. The Institute of Medicine published a report in 2013 stating that “key elements of the entire [child vaccine] schedule – the number, frequency, timing, order and age of administration of vaccines – have not been systematically examined in research studies.” Source here:

  • Chandra Garber

    While I agree that vaccines should be made as safe as possible, there has been extensive research in this area, showing that they are…by a large majority. Perhaps as Felicia said, individual anomalies in our genetic codes may trigger bad reactions in some. But it seems that some of the anger surrounding this comes from a belief that medicine should be able to do all and be all to all people. Unfortunately, safe medicine doesn’t always equal infallible medicine.

    Having spent time in countries where diseases like polio are still endemic, it terrifies me how easily we could return such a state in the US if we pull back from herd immunity. I often wonder what would be the position of many in the US if a vaccine for cancer was discovered, and there was an equally high success rate and supporting evidence for safety, while some people had anomalous bad reactions. Would people vaccinate against a disease we are so familiar with and which has devastated so many we know personally?

  • Lindsay

    Thanks for a thoughtful post on a very controversial topic. I feel like you articulated my point of view exactly – weighing the science behind vaccines, the public health threats and the importance of spreading out vaccinations. I don’t have children of my own, but after a lot of time, research and deliberation, I would take the step to vaccinate them with those that are necessary. At the end of the day I think we can all agree that chemicals like mercury (now out of vaccines) and preservatives like formaldehyde shouldn’t be there. That is a different conversation however than saying no one should vaccinate their children period. Well done.

  • Genevieve

    Well said Richard, and wishes of infinite wellness to your whole family.
    I am concerned that in this small opinion piece, which also has access to many mothers, you write as if you prove that vaccinations are safe. While I am not a scientist, or autism researcher – I am a concerned parent now researching this exact issue.
    I would like to share for your readers information they can easily look up. Aluminum and mercury are currently in every vaccination being offered to our child. Aluminum and mercury are considered by current science to be neurotoxins. The combination of aluminum with fluoride is currently considered more detrimental to our systems.
    Of course I want my child, and the children of others, to be safe from disease – but not at the cost of their precious brains. Until the mercury and aluminum are no longer used in vaccination production I, and many others, do not believe them to be safe, regardless of the autism factor.
    While my child has a chance of contracting the diseases with current vaccinations, there is a 100% chance of injecting a neurotoxin in him if vaccinated. In a small does it may not make a profound difference – and with shot after shot as more is introduced, there may never be a tipping point. It just comes down to weighing the concerns for yourself.
    I respect fully your decision to vaccinate your children, along with anyone else who did or does. I just find your article disturbing for it’s lack of depth or information for the parents who may come upon it.
    An article hoping for safe vaccinations for all, and how we may be able to bring that about, would have been far more inspiring and helpful.

    • Rachel Sarnoff

      Thanks for writing, Genevieve. I agree that there are neurotoxins associated with autism; in fact, I published another article on that subject: Unfortunately, some of these neurotoxins are common in our society: Mercury in fish, for example, or lead dust in older homes. In writing this post, I tried to be as clear as possible that my decision to vaccinate was informed by current scientific research from the CDC and the World Health Organization, among others. I hope that those looking for more information take the time to click through to those links to read the data.

  • Kay Ausfahl

    I don’t think Jenny is dangerous – I think you are. If you want scientific research, check out NVIC. They present the facts and let parents make their own decisions. For you to say thet vaccinations don’t cause autism when you don’t know for sure is poor journalism. And, BTW – Jenny doesn’t (and never has) say DON’T get any vaccines. She advises parents to do their homework – insist on “green” vaccinations and avoid “all-in-one” vaccines that overload a child’s system.

    • Rachel Sarnoff

      Thanks for your opinion, Kay. I’ve shared links to all the scientific research I’m presenting here, which is a journalistic standard that’s not the norm for a blog! But thank you for reading, and commenting. This topic is so important to keep discussing.

  • Felicia Knight Olson

    Hi RIchard and any others dealing with the terrible results of reactions to vaccines,

    I do feel for your family and the terrible troubles that you have been caused. But like Rachel pointed out, if we didn’t vaccinate at all, we would be in the same shape as some developing countries where thousands of children suffer needlessly from permanent disabilities or even death from illnesses that we have the ability to prevent. I do think perhaps there should be some more investigation into the issues caused to a numerical minority by vaccines. Perhaps it is something in the genetic code that causes these troubles. Just like certain illnesses can be caused by the combination of two parents and their genes, perhaps that is the same thing that causes these reactions. It’s something that should be checked and perhaps we could prevent those troubles.

    That being said, there is no scientific evidence that says vaccines can cause Autism. I have a number of friends with Autistic children, some were vaccinated, others not… it wasn’t the vaccine that made them autistic. I was blessed, both my children, one natural and one adopted were vaccinated with no major issues. Perhaps rather than speaking out against vaccination, we should all speak out for more research into what makes some children have severe reactions. Our children are the future and if we all call together, those who haven’t experienced what you did, and those who have, maybe we can convince those who have the research ability to devote that to finding out what is causing some children to have these horrible reactions.

    Before we encourage someone to speak against something that helps so many, we should make certain they are speaking from a position supported by evidence and research by an impartial scientific party.


  • joey

    i disagree with you Rachel. Vaccines all come down to $$. And they will ALWAYS push it on people unfortunately. I mean come on we still produce cigarettes! WHY? Its proven to cause cancer!
    $$$$$$$$$ talks unfortunately

    • Rachel Sarnoff

      I think this is a different case, Joey. I think the science is pretty clear that vaccines protect our health. But thank you for reading, and commenting. I know this is a very passionate subject for many!

  • richard mikels

    I am very happy for all of the people whose children received childhood shots and were perfectly fine. I wish my wife and I were among them. My daughter received her shots, spiked a very high fever (106 degrees) and after a period of time she changed Each time shots were administered we were assured by the doctors that this was coincidence and that the shots were perfectly safe. Were the shots a contributing factor to my daughter’s issues? Maybe so, maybe not-but it is difficult to convince someone like me that this was a mere coincidence. Maybe you are less concerned because the shots are so helpful to the vast majority. However if your child were one of the few who might have been adversely impacted, you might be more understanding of Ms McCarthy and what she is trying to accomplish. Safe shots should be the goal for everybody. Were the shots, given when my daughter was small, safe? One is never a valid sample size and so I don’t know the scientifically conclusive answer. I do know that I have concerns. In any event, it seems obvious that every effort should be made to protect children from autism and related diseases. Sweeping heartbreaking stories under the rug does not seem like the right approach. Being insensitive to the concerns of parents of autistic children cannot be a correct response. Trying to hurt the professional career of someone who feels her child’s life was severely harmed, and is willing to take the risk of speaking out, it is really poor form. I hope the many who are so lacking in empathy on this issue will at least take a step back and realize that right or wrong, Jenny McCarthy is concerned about all of the children who may have similar stories ,now and in the future. How many “coincidences” does it take to encourage people to be a little tiny bit sensitive to the pain of others? This is not about right or wrong, good or bad. It is certainly not about trying to diminish the good accomplished from shots. It is about making sure that shots are safe for our children. It is not sufficient to say that the overall good of shots more than outweighs the possibility that a few of our children might become autistic. Have sufficient studies been done? Have the studies looked at sufficient data to determine if some people may be susceptible to bad reactions from the shots even they are perfectly safe for the vast majority of people? Maybe this has been done to the satisfaction of lots of people with healthy children. We will see if they are just as satisfied that it is all mere coincidence, and no further studies need be undertaken, if their grandchildren become autistic after shots. My guess is that if this comes to pass for some good people, that they will become a bit more skeptical. I do not wish this on any one. I suspect that neither does Jenny McCarthy and I expect that is what is motivating her.

    • Rachel Sarnoff

      Thank you for this perspective, Richard. I am not trying to be insensitive to parents of autistic children and really do appreciate your sharing your story.

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