Jenny McCarthy is well-known as an actress and something of a bawdy comedian. But her fame is growing in less elevated circles: she's an outspoken promoter of the anti-vaccination movement. Her claims that vaccines cause (or contribute to) autism are nothing short of breathtakingly ridiculous. It's why she won our 2008 Pigasus Award.
Medical doctors Orac and Steve Novella have written extensively about her, as has Skeptical Dad, and the Stop Jenny McCarthy site was created to expose her as the danger she is.
But the bar has been set even higher now: a new website has been created called Jenny McCarthy Body Count. Stark and grim, it has one purpose: to show how many preventable illnesses and preventable deaths have occurred due to unvaccinated people since Jenny McCarthy became the de facto face of the antivaccination movement. The website, created by skeptic Derek Bartholomaus, stops short of saying she is directly responsible for these illnesses and deaths, but her indirect responsibility is arguably relevant.
We know that some outbreaks of measles have occurred due to the antivax movement, for example. And there have been deaths - children have died - because they were unvaccinated. McCarthy may have started out as a comedian, but I'm not laughing at her anymore.
The statistics for the site are from the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality reports, which Bartholomaus has linked for reference. The diseases specifically include measles, mumps, rubella, polio, tetanus, Hib, the flu, and diphtheria. In fact, his numbers underestimate the problem, since other vaccine-preventable diseases are not listed in the CDC reports. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of fatalities are from the pediatric flu, a tragedy that is all the more heart-breaking due to its simple preventability.
The Jenny McCarthy Body Count site itself only launched on March 29, but it's already had thousands of views. Bartholomaus, a self-described "statistics geek", updates it by hand once a week, when the new CDC reports are issued. He also has some basic info on McCarthy's claims there, but for more background info on McCarthy and her pro-disease stance, go to Stop Jenny McCarthy.
It's too bad we need something like this site, but McCarthy gets a free pass from the media, even from those that claim to "spar" with her (but really only give her a platform in which she can spew more dangerous nonsense). The Jenny McCarthy Body Count site is a very stark - and sadly, very necessary - reminder that just because people's beliefs aren't real, they can still have a very real and very tragic impact.
As a reminder, the JREF is sponsoring a vaccination clinic at TAM 7. Please donate to this cause, and help us spread a little health and reality to the children of Las Vegas.