In news that nobody saw coming, actress Jessica Biel has appeared to associate herself with the anti-vaxx movement.
According to a story broken by the Daily Beast, Biel – who is married to musician Justin Timberlake – joined anti-vaxxer Robert Kennedy Jr to lobby against pro-vaccination legislation.
The unlikely duo had united to lobby against SB 276, a California state bill that would limit medical exemptions from vaccinations without approval from a state public health officer. There are estimations that it would reduce medical exemptions to vaccines by nearly 40 per cent.
The anti-vaxx movement has been near-universally rebuked by scientist and is responsible for cases of measles in the US skyrocketing. Medical professionals have called it a public health emergency.
Biel said in a 2015 interview with In Touch Weekly that she worried about “complications” that vaccines might cause. But she’s never publicly waded into this controversial debate.
Kennedy, who himself does not identify with the label “anti-vaxx”, shied away from aligning Biel with the movement.
I would say that she was for safe vaccines and for medical freedom.
My body, my choice.
In 2015, Kennedy was criticised for using the word “holocaust” to describe the number of children with autism in the United States, which he attributed to vaccinations without evidence. Scientists strongly refute this claim.
When asked about the recent outbreaks of measles, Kennedy said that vaccine exemptions were not responsible, despite many claims to the contrary by leading scientists and doctors.
Biel and Timberlake did not respond to the Daily Beast’s initial request for comment, so it is not clear whether Biel would regard herself as an “anti-vaxxer” or whether her issue is simply with this specific piece of California legislation.
On Twitter however people weren't happy with Biel seemingly aligning herself with anti-vaxx activism.
Following the online backlash Jessica Biel has since clarified to her fans that she is not against vaccinations.
In a post shared on Instagram she said:
I am not against vaccinations — I support children getting vaccinations and I also support families having the right to make educated medical decisions for their children alongside their physicians.
My dearest friends have a child with a medical condition that warrants an exemption from vaccinations, and should this bill pass, it would greatly affect their family’s ability to care for their child in this state," she wrote. "That’s why I spoke to legislators and argued against this bill. Not because I don’t believe in vaccinations, but because I believe in giving doctors and the families they treat the ability to decide what’s best for their patients and the ability to provide that treatment.
H/T: Daily Beast