With vaccination and its enforcement becoming an increasingly controversial and divisive issue, many people have weighed in publicly to either support or decry them, pro or anti-vaccine. Some of those people have been celebrities, many of whom use their influential positions in society as a platform to express their stance. While there are many in favor, these celebrities have expressed some doubts.
The Golden Globe-winning actor, renowned for his work on shows like Spin City and Two and a Half Men, was apparently so opposed to having his daughters vaccinated that he had his lawyer write a letter to his children’s pediatrician, telling him that the actor did not consent to the doctor providing vaccines to them.
After his former wife Denise Richards became involved, the doctor informed Charlie Sheen that he would be proceeding with the immunization. According to AOL, Sheen was so incensed over this that when he went to go pay, he gave the doctor $380 in nickels — which the doctor then said he would donate to charity.
Comedian and sharp-witted pundit Bill Maher has made a name for himself hosting politically-themed programs touching on sensitive issues. He first began in 1993 hosting the late-night series, Politically Incorrect, which ran for eight seasons until 2002. Afterwards, Maher moved to HBO where he began his current political talk show, Real Time with Bill Maher.
In a November 2, 2019 episode of Real Time with Bill Maher, the politically-inclined host sat down with Dr. Jay Gordon to discuss vaccinations. During the episode Bill Maher didn’t say he was anti-vaccine specifically, but he did say that “vaccines, like every medicine, have side effects…there’s all these parents who say ‘I had a normal child, got the vaccine’…this story keeps coming.” Maher remarked that he doesn’t have enough information on the subject to deny a connection between vaccines and autism.
Comedy actor and artist Jim Carrey has made his voice a prominent one within the ranks of those who believe in the link between vaccinations and autism. He’s commonly listed as being an anti-vaxxer, though the title may not fit perfectly. While he may not define himself as entirely against vaccinations, he has grave concerns. In 2015, Carrey made his views very clear, tweeting out, “I am not anti-vaccine. I am anti-thimerosal, anti-mercury. They have taken some of the mercury laden thimerosal out of vaccines. NOT ALL!”
The actor continued by pointing out, “They say mercury in fish is dangerous but forcing all of our children to be injected with mercury in thimerosal is no risk. Make sense?” Carrey even wrote an article for the Huffington Post in 2009 decrying vaccinations. His post has since been taken down by the online publication, citing an “interest of public health.”
Having been acting for almost 40 years, Esai Morales is best known for his roles as Lieutenant Tony Rodriguez on NYPD Blue, Joseph Adama in the science fiction series Caprica, and as Camino del Rio in Netflix’s original series, Ozark. Additionally, this award-winning actor is co-founder of the National Hispanic Foundation of the Arts and founding board member of E.C.O. (Earth Communications Office).
One particular issue that Morales is passionate about is vaccinations and their alleged dangers. He has gone on to criticize the World Health Organization, saying that their claim that vaccine denial is one of the greatest health threats to humanity is just them being “scared for their lost business…not lives.”
The only permanent member of the band The Smashing Pumpkins, Billy Corgan helped form the band in 1988 after meeting guitarist James Iha while working in a record store and bassist D’arcy Wretzky at a local band’s performance. Since then, he has served as the singer, primary songwriter, and guitarist of the band.
In 2009 Corgan launched a new site called Everything From Here to There. In it, he discusses a variety of subjects, vaccinations being one of them. On the topic, he wrote: “I do not trust those who make the vaccines, or the apparatus behind it all to push it on us thru fear…This is not judgment; it is a personal decision based on research, intuition, conversations with my doctor and my ‘family.'”
Considered by publications like Insider to be the “face of the anti-vaxx movement,” Jenny McCarthy has been active about the vaccine/autism issue since 2007. That year, her son was diagnosed with autism, which, according to her, happened after he had been given the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccination.
McCarthy has gone on to report to CNN that her son has since been “cured” of his autism due to a healthy diet in combination with vitamins and supplements meant to detox the body from metals or candida. In 2008, McCarthy and then-partner Jim Carrey led a “Green our Vaccines” march and rally in Washington D.C., during which they demanded the removal of certain substances from vaccines.
Known for his work in a number of films including The Godfather Part II and Taxi Driver, the Academy Award-winning actor Robert De Niro made headlines in 2017 when he partnered with anti-vaccination activist and environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Together, the pair held a press conference in Washington D.C. where they discussed their beliefs about the dangers of vaccines.
The year before, in 2016, De Niro greenlit the screening of the film Vaxxed at the Tribeca Film Festival, which he co-founded. The film was directed by researcher Andrew Wakefield in an attempt to connect the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine to autism. After immense backlash from the scientific community, De Niro ended up pulling the film.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, if you picked up a popular fashion magazine, chances are you would see right there on the cover the face of popular supermodel Cindy Crawford. Not only has Crawford been the star features of leading magazines like Vogue and Cosmopolitan, she has also acted in film, and even appeared in a Pepsi Superbowl commercial as recently as 2018.
When she’s not walking the runway, this iconic and massively successful supermodel can be found donating to medical research teams trying to fight childhood leukemia. Her position against vaccines is unclear, but she is presumably suspicious of them. In 2015, she tweeted out her support for the film Trace Amounts, which takes a look at mercury levels in vaccines.
When Kristin Cavallari appeared on Fox Business in 2014, she hadn’t been planning on discussing her hesitancy to vaccinations. According to a follow-up interview on Fox & Friends, she said the topic of conversation “came up,” and the then-pregnant mother of one continued by saying she had received a “harsh response” from her fans for her decision not to vaccinate her children.
While not entirely anti-vaccine, the actress definitely has doubts, saying, “Listen, to each their own. I understand both sides of it. I’ve read too many books about autism and there’s some scary statistics out there. It’s our personal choice, and, you know, if you’re really concerned about your kid get them vaccinated.”
From 1984 to 1991, Lisa Bonet starred as Denise Huxtable (later Denise Huxtable Kendall) on the NBC family sitcom The Cosby Show. While the actress has since gone on to appear in movies and subsequent shows (such as the HBO hit series Girls), her work as the most rebellious member of the Huxtable clan has arguably remained her most recognizable role to date.
Back in 1990, Bonet appeared on an episode of The Donahue Show where she and host Phil Donahue had a conversation about vaccinations. There Bonet explained her opinion that vaccinations had the potential to “introduce alien microorganisms into our children’s blood.” She further posited that the side effects could result in diseases like “cancer, leukemia, multiple sclerosis, sudden infant death syndrome.” Considering this was 30 years ago, it’s possible her ideas have changed.
NEXT: These celebs caused quite a stir after revealing how they felt about vaccinations.
Best known for R&B hits like “Un-Break My Heart,” “You Mean the World to Me,” and “Breathe Again,” Toni Braxton is a Billboard chart-topping singer, songwriter, and actress. So far, Braxton has been the recipient of seven Grammy Awards, nine Billboard Music awards, and was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.
No doubt Braxton realized that a life as full and successful as hers would make for a very interesting memoir. The 2011 publication of her Unbreak My Heart: A Memoir was very revealing. While rumored to be completely anti-vaccine, the singer-songwriter simply suggested that vaccines may have been responsible for her son’s autism, saying, “Maybe it’s just a coincidence that after my son’s first MMR vaccine, I began to notice changes in him.”
After her film debut in 1993’s The Crush, Alicia Silverstone was granted the MTV Movie Award for Best Breakthrough Performance. Since then, the Batgirl actress has 64 movie and television credits to her name, but Silverstone isn’t just an accomplished actress — she is also a published author.
In her book The Kind Mama: A Simple Guide to Supercharged Fertility, a Radiant Pregnancy, a Sweeter Birth, and a Healthier, More Beautiful Beginning, Silverstone writes, “While there has not been a conclusive study of the negative effects of [vaccines]…there is increasing anecdotal evidence from doctors who have gotten distressed phone calls from parents claiming their child was ‘never the same’ after receiving a vaccine.” This opinion has led some to classify her as anti-vaccine.
Famous for roles in films like Cruel Intentions, Legally Blonde, and Hellboy (along with its sequel Hellboy II: The Golden Army), Selma Blair took a firm stance against California Senate Bill 277. That legislation, better known as SB277, was signed into law on June 30, 2015, and removed personal belief as an acceptable reason for a parent to not vaccinate their child.
Blair received keen interest from the anti-vaccine movement after posting on Twitter. Her comments indicate that she is not anti-vaccine outright; she in fact chose to vaccinate her son, but she has a problem with some legislation surrounding vaccinations. “Parental choice is our right. Most vaccinate. Let us choose.” This was followed by a tweet from the SNCCLA, which showed a photograph of a letter the actress had written to the governor of California listing the reasons why she was opposed to SB277.
Jenna Elfman is best known for her work on Dharma & Greg, a comedy sitcom about a couple who decide to marry on their first dates despite having very little in common with one another. For her work on the popular series, Elfman won a 1999 Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV musical or comedy.
In 2015, Elfman came out against California Senate Bill 277, a bill which, after it was signed into law, removed personal belief as an acceptable excuse for a parent to not vaccinate their child. While Elfman wanted to make it clear that she was not “anti-vax,” she posted onto her social media accounts that it was the parents’ right to vaccinate their children as much (or as little) as they wanted to.
Kat Von D is a celebrity tattoo artist, recognizable to fans thanks to the TLC reality show LA Ink. She’s gone on to become a make-up mogul whose brand, KVD Vegan Beauty, promotes itself by being “vegan and cruelty-free.” With over 7 million followers on Instagram alone, Kat Von D made headlines after revealing her opinions in regards to vaccinations.
In 2018, the then-pregnant tattoo artist revealed in a since-deleted Instagram post that she and her husband were planning on raising their son vegan and vaccination-free. After being subject to intense backlash for her beliefs being reflective of the anti-vaccination community, Kat Von D uploaded a YouTube video in which she explained that she is not anti-vaccination. Rather, she has decided to consult with her pediatrician and keep her plans for her child off the public record.
NEXT: You’ve probably seen them on television and in movies, but did you know this is how they felt about vaccines?
“I know why she’s so accelerated, she’s never been vaccinated before….so that’s why she’s so accelerated, she doesn’t have mercury in her body and things of that nature.” These were Kevin Gates’ words to Rolling Stone magazine in a February 2016 interview. The interview, following the release of his album Islah, included Gates discussing his children and their unorthodox upbringing.
But for Gates, he seems to remain convinced that his children’s advancements are in some part due to his choice not to vaccinate them. Gates describes himself as a “cold-blooded investigator.” For him, “what made me not want to get my children vaccinated was because I studied a lot about killing, you know, bad enzymes and stuff in the body.” So is he outright anti-vaccination? You decide.
In 1982, Kirstie Alley began to make a name for herself after taking on playing the role of Saavik in the science fiction film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. A few years later, Alley made a career-defining decision when she landed the role of Rebecca Howe in the television sitcom Cheers, a role which got her both an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe.
When it comes to vaccinations, Alley may be hesitant of them, but she doesn’t consider herself to be anti-vaccine, a point she has tried to make very clear. In June 2015 the former Cheers actress tweeted, “Again…I’m not ANTI vaccines but we MUST take responsibility 4 choosing which ones WE give OUR children & ourselves. They aren’t ALL harmless.”
“Fame can be just so annoying because people are so critical of you. You can’t just say “hi”. You say hi and people whisper, ‘Man, did you see the way she said ‘Hi.’ What an attitude.’” This was Juliette Lewis’ take on fame on the New York Film Academy’s list of guest speakers. Indeed, it does seem like many people are critical of actors, and particularly their opinions. But that didn’t stop Lewis from speaking out against SB277.
California Senate Bill 277 was a bill passed in 2015 and forbid parents from using personal belief as a reason not to vaccinate their child. A few months before the bill’s passing, Lewis, who was since accused of being anti-vaccine, protested with a post on Twitter, “I like my freedoms. I like my rights. Freedom of choice, voice, religion, thought, expression.”
In June 2019, Jessica Biel posted a photo of herself on Instagram at the California State Capitol. While her opinions have been compared to those of the anti-vaccination community, she was there to advocate against a bill, SB276, which would essentially make it more difficult for children to avoid receiving vaccination exemptions by only allowing state health officials to approve them instead of doctors.
Biel wrote in her Instagram post that she was not against vaccines. Rather, the actress and wife of Justin Timberlake wrote that she was concerned with a “family’s ability to care for their child in this state.” She went on to write that her opposition to the bill had less to do with her opinion on vaccinations, and more to do with “giving doctors and the families they treat the ability to decide what’s best.”
Known for her character of neurobiologist Amy Farrah Fowler on the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory, Bialik received a bit of criticism due to her perceived stance of being anti-vaccine. Attempting to clear up any confusion, in February 2015 she wrote, “I would like to dispel the rumors about my stance on vaccines. i am not anti-vaccine. my children are vaccinated. there has been so much hysteria and anger about this issue and i hope this clears things up as far as my part.”
Bialik then decided to continue clarifying her more ambivalent position in her post, this time with a slightly more defiant tone, and wrote, “honestly, people. do your research. do what’s right for you. let me live my life and you live yours.”
NEXT: It may surprise you to discover that these celebrities are also not so sure about vaccines.
Known for slapstick comedy films like Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, The Hot Chick, and The Benchwarmers, actor Rob Schneider took to Twitter to protest what he considered to be companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Google “burying information” and “restricting free speech.”
While Schneider has been called an “anti-vaxxer” by numerous sources, the Grown-Ups star went on Larry King Now in November 2017 to clarify his position. He informed King that he’s not “anti-vaccination,” but rather, he supports a parent’s right to choose whether or not they feel as though their child should be vaccinated. He has come out strongly against states like New York where they do not allow children to attend public schools if they have not been vaccinated.
Born in Long Island, New York, Danny Masterson began modeling at the age of four and by age 16 had already been featured in over 100 commercials. At age 22 he was cast as Steven Hyde on That ’70s Show, which lasted from 1998 and 2006, and was considered the breakthrough in Masterson’s career.
Like many others when it comes to vaccinations, Masterson has been thrown into the anti-vaxxer camp but, in fact, seems to have no problem with vaccinations themselves. Rather, the actor seems to take issue with parents being pressured to vaccinate their children, tweeting, “I’m 100% pro Vaccine. No…way does the govt tell me what to do to my child. disgusting. NO #SB277”
Neither an actress nor a household celebrity, it’s still likely that you’ve heard of this remarkable woman as a result of her class action lawsuit against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company. That case was made into a movie starring Julia Roberts as Brockovich, a role which earned Roberts an Academy Award for Best Leading Actress in 2001.
Since then, as the debate about vaccinations rages on, Erin Brockovich has been referenced numerous times for her stance against government interference in vaccines. In 2015, Brockovich tweeted, “My kids, my grand-kids and I are all #vaccinated but I’ll be damned if any government is going to tell me what to put in my or kids’ bodies.”
Originally from Colorado, Bailey moved to New York and then to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film. In 2013, Bailey co-founded the theatrical distribution company The Film Arcade, and in 2017 worked as a producer and director of the controversial documentary, The Pathological Optimist.
That documentary focused on Andrew Wakefield, a former doctor who was among the first to claim a link between vaccines and autism. Beginning in 2011, Wakefield allowed Bailey and her team to follow him around for five years as he fought his legal battles. While many have accused Bailey of giving a voice to the anti-vaccine movement, Bailey herself has declared that the film is neither anti-vaccine nor pro-vaccine.
Best known for her role as Claire Dunphy on the mockumentary family sitcom Modern Family, Julie Bowen also copes with the pressures of motherhood in her personal life as well. In 2011, Bowen wrote an article for WebMD describing her struggle with allowing her children to be vaccinated.
It seems as though this actress has gone from anti-vaccine to pro. But for her, the choice did not seem to be an easy one, “I cried making the decision (to vaccinate my kids), I’m not gonna lie…But I spoke with my sister, who is an infectious disease doctor – and then also with my own doctor and my pediatrician, who said to me: ‘By not vaccinating your children, you’re putting them at serious risk.’ That was it for me.”
Sources: Time, The Atlantic, Forbes