Actor Jim Carrey, best known for '90s comedies like Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and more serious work like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, may overshadow both those achievements with his latest act as a vehement anti-vaxxer.
Shortly after California's Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a requirement that all California students be vaccinated regardless of personal belief, the actor took to Twitter to lay down just what he thought of the new law and the governor.
The post quickly went viral among Carrey's 14.7 million followers, snagging more than 1,700 retweets and 2,200 favorites as of Wednesday morning. The post also generated a storm of commenters, with many mocking Carrey, suggesting he stick to acting.
In response, Carrey followed up with a series of justifications and clarifications.
While scientific-sounding, the distinctions Carrey draws are not based on facts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the preservative thimerosal, which does contain trace amounts of mercury, poses no danger to humans.
"There is no convincing evidence of harm caused by the low doses of thimerosal in vaccines, except for minor reactions like redness and swelling at the injection site," the CDC reports on its website.
Despite the non-threat, thimerosal has been removed from most early childhood vaccines just as a precaution. Specifically, the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, which has drawn particular ire in the anti-vaxxing community, does not contain thimerosal and never has.
Rather, when parents choose to opt out of vaccinations, they put their child, and everyone else, at risk. A California measles outbreak that began in December and ultimately sickened as many as 142 people was largely attributable to parents forgoing the MMR vaccination. Vaccination rates in wealthy areas of Los Angeles are now comparable to South Sudan, which has resulted in the return of diseases like whooping cough and mumps.
The original study that purported to show a link between vaccinations and autism — the first spark of the movement — has been thoroughly debunked and was retracted in 2010 by the Lancet, where it was published.
The truly tragic thing about charts like this is that bringing these numbers down to zero in 2014 — and every year — is not only possible, but easy. The MMR vaccine has existed since 1971, is readily available and is the most effective defense against the virus we have.
Carrey was formerly married to Jenny McCarthy, who is also known for here vehement outspokenness over the dangers of vaccines and their links to autism. With their enormous followings, celebrities like Carrey spouting ignorance only delay the day when we can finish off these scourges for good.
On the other hand, perhaps Carrey is just getting into character for Dumb and Dumber 3.