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Opinion

Readers React: Jessica Biel’s anti-vaccine bill activism puts the public’s health at risk

Jessica Biel
Actress Jessica Biel, seen in 2017, said she has a personal friend who would be affected by legislation in California cracking down on vaccine exemptions.
(Andy Kropa / Invision / AP)

To the editor: The article describing Jessica Biel’s and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s opposition to the pending state legislation to tighten the rules regarding vaccine exemptions fails to cover the most salient issue: the boundary between medical decisions affecting only one’s family versus those that risk the health of the community.

The small number of children who truly qualify for a vaccine exemption can be tolerated without risking an epidemic, but if the proportion of unvaccinated children is enlarged because of inappropriate exemptions, other vulnerable children will be infected and some will die.

The article also misleadingly treats the issue of whether vaccines cause autism as a difference of opinion between activists for personal choice on the one side, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and “various medical groups” on the other.

The original so-called research on vaccines as a cause for autism was long ago proved fraudulent. Much subsequent research has found that there is no connection between vaccines and autism, a medical fact established with roughly the same degree of certainty as the causative relationship between cigarettes and lung cancer.

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Cyril Barnert, M.D., Los Angeles

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To the editor: Why did the L.A. Times devote space to Biel’s “views” on established medicine and science? What did I miss? Does Biel have a degree in public health? Did she earn an medical degree?

To present Biel’s dubious reasons for opposing a vaccine bill designed to protect the health of Californians as newsworthy erodes what should be a stark divide between fact and personal anecdote, between expert and lay person, between truth and superstition, between evidence and conspiracist fantasy.

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Biel’s ignorant views and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s scaremongering should not be presented alongside the work of experts like state Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), the author of the vaccine legislation as well as a practicing pediatrician.

Jo Perry, Studio City

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