As measles makes a comeback around the country, renewed attention is being focused on the people responsible for the resurgence, namely the anti-vaxxer movement. Unfortunately, vaccine-denial rhetoric doesn’t just emanate from the throngs of privileged, narcissistic parents in middle and upper class suburbs, it also emanates from people associated with the White House.
This Wednesday, the wife of White House deputy chief of staff of communications Bill Shine took to her Twitter account and claimed that childhood diseases actually make you “healthy.”
Responding to a CNN segment that reported on the current measles outbreaks in Washington and Oregon, Darla Shine called the public health crises ‘fake’ and simply a product of ‘hysteria.’
“The entire Baby Boom population alive today had the #Measles as kids,” she tweeted. “Bring back our #ChildhoodDiseases they keep you healthy & fight cancer.”
— Darla Shine 👑 (@DarlaShine) February 13, 2019
Shine’s logic is a step beneath the usual anti-vaxxer ideology, which justifies skipping the MMR vaccine due to fraudulent links to autism. Some parents have been known to purposefully expose their children to measles, thinking that it will boost their immune systems and make them stronger.
“Measles parties” first began popping up in the 1950s and 1960s before the MMR vaccine came on the scene to combat measles, mumps, and rubella. According to a 1962 issue of Parents’ Magazine & Better Homemaking, “Measles has always been accepted as part of the growing-up process, as much a part of childhood as stubbed toes and dirty hands.” It’s this same ignorant attitude half a century ago that fuels the opinions of people like Shine today.
Shine’s claim that Baby Boomers are alive because of exposure to measles as children conveniently leaves out the fact that before the MMR vaccine’s introduction back in 1963, 500 children died every year from the measles, with an additional 48,000 who were hospitalized.
Naturally the backlash to Shine’s tweet was huge, but she’s still doubling down.
“I had the #Measles #Mumps #ChickenPox as a child and so did every kid I knew,” she wrote in a followup tweet. “Sadly my kids had #MMR so they will never have the life long natural immunity I have. Come breathe on me!”
Shine didn’t have the luxury of a measles vaccine when she was a child. She has no idea how lucky she is that her children do.
Featured image via Twitter/Darla Shine