The Hollywood mom sits down with Stanford University for a revealing interview.
Recently actress and new (ish) mom Amanda Peet sat down with a reporter from Stanford University School of Medicine's magazine to talk about her passionate belief in vaccination. No doubt about it -- this is a hot topic in Hollywood, and opinions sure are divided. And while some believe that vaccines are a trigger for autism, recent research has dispelled this theory, claiming the original research that suggested this had been falsified -- and was funded by a law firm that was suing vaccine makers.
When faced with the option of vaccinating her 2-year-old daughter Frances Pen, Peet was met with a flurry of opinions on the topic. Friends said, "Be wary of drug companies colliding with researchers," "Who knows what's in those vaccines?," and "Beware of autism!"
But determined to decide for herself, Peet hit the books. She consulted her brother-in-law, a respected pediatrician, who introduced her to immunization experts in the medical field.
Soon Peet became a spokesperson for vaccinateyourbaby.org, a national public service campaign, to educate the public on what's true and what's false in the ongoing vaccination controversy.
"I consider myself to be a fairly skeptical person," says Peet. "So it was interesting to learn how rigorous the screening process is for vaccines compared with the screening process for, say, Vioxx. A lot of people think that pharmaceutical companies are fudging all the data on vaccines, and that the CDC, the NIH and the rest of the medical establishment are all in cahoots in a massive cover-up ... it didn't seem that realistic," she says.
Peet says despite the flack she knew she'd receive, she decided to be an advocate for vaccination when she became a mom. Scared by the parents who aren't vaccinating their kids, she says, "It started to make me afraid for my daughter's health. And I don't want to sound paranoid -- I don't want to put a bubble around her or anything -- but I know more people who are withholding their children's vaccines or staggering them than people whose children are on the full schedule. This is my community, though, and I know I live in a rarified world."
Despite the belief that vaccination causes autism -- Jenny McCarthy has famously spoken about the dangers of the MMR shot and the two celebs have butted heads -- Peet had this to say about the controversy in Hollywood: "The interesting thing to me about the Hollywood community is that it embraces the scientific evidence for global warming and climate change, but ignores the scientific data showing no link between vaccines and autism."
"Yes, well, we are whistle-blowers here in Hollywood -- we like to think of ourselves as anti-corporate and anti-establishment," she says. "And I don't trust pharmaceutical companies either. But the scientific evidence in the last 10 years shows there's no link between autism and vaccines. There have been 12 studies showing that the MMR vaccine, the one so many are worried about, doesn't cause autism. And while it's natural to be cynical, I think it's critical to be discerning."
According to Peet, the bottom line is that the medical data regarding the benefits of vaccination cannot be disputed. "All people want to do is talk about this person's conflict of interest, or how that person was paid by Merck, but my point is: Look at the studies. The studies were not performed by Merck," she says.
"Also, I hope parents understand that when they do not vaccinate their kids, they are able to make that choice only because most of us are vaccinating," says Peet. "We are creating a barricade around their un-vaccinated children and that is what keeps them safe. That's a fact."