I'm willing to bet that everyone reading this post knows who Oprah Winfrey is. And I'm also willing to bet that everyone in my age bracket who is reading this got a number of vaccines as children, including MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella). What you might not know is that Oprah, against scientific evidence, is endorsing the stance that we should not be getting that vaccine. Let me explain.
Jenny McCarthy (a solid medical source if ever there was one) has an autistic son. She believes that the autism was caused by her son's receiving the MMR vaccine and has gone on the warpath to spread her anti-vaccine message. CDC studies have shown that there is no link between vaccines and autism. Let me say it again. There is no proven link between the MMR vaccine and autism. It's up to you whether you believe cold hard facts or a former Playgirl.
However, there is a link between non-vaccinated children and death from previously eradicated diseases like measles. The saddest thing is that the children who tend to die from measles are not those whose mothers purposely didn't vaccinate them; it's the children who are too young to get the vaccine or who have other illnesses which prevent them from getting vaccinated in the first place. These children rely on everyone else for their own health.
Oprah has had Jenny McCarthy on the show a number of times to showcase her point of view. Oprah covers herself by saying that her "intention is for our viewers to take the information and engage in a dialogue with their medical practitioners about what may be right for them" (source) but I am calling bullshit on this. Oprah knows how influential she is. The books she chooses for her book club are inevitable top sellers as soon as she mentions them. She knows that if she endorses the antivaccine crap, mothers out there will at least think twice about giving their children these vaccines.
While I know that Oprah's empire will not collapse because I stop watching her show once a month, I do feel a need to spread the word. If you feel strongly about this, let Oprah know. If not, at least make sure you do the proper research before you decide to expose your own child and other children to preventable risks. I have a number of friends who are pregnant or have newborns and I encourage you to make intelligent decisions about their health. The CDC even put out a video about this for moms with questions. Pass the word!