Fact Check: Actress and Neuroscience Expert Mayim Bialik Is NOT Opposed To Vaccination

Fact Check

  • by: Christiana Dillard
Fact Check: Actress and Neuroscience Expert Mayim Bialik Is NOT Opposed To Vaccination Not Opposed

Is Mayim Bialik, an actress with a doctorate in neuroscience, opposed to vaccination? No, that's not true: Bialik debunked the claim after a misinterpretation of an excerpt from her book was used to portray her as someone who did not believe in vaccinating her children.

The claim appeared in a Facebook post (archived here) published on July 14, 2021. The post features a photo of Bialik with text that reads:

Holds PhD in Neuroscience
Refuses to Vaccinate
#SmartParentsDon'tVax

This is what the post looked like on Facebook on July 16, 2021:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Fri Jul 16 16:30:19 2021 UTC)

On October 1, 2020, Bialik released a video on her YouTube channel that disputed the claim. After mentioning that she had not received a vaccine in 30 years, she went on to share her enthusiasm at getting two vaccines in the upcoming year (at the 22-second mark):

Number one vaccine that I'm gonna get is the COVID vaccine. I can't wait for it, bring it on. Number two vaccine, I'm gonna get a flu vaccine. My 12- and 15-year-old children have never received a flu vaccine. This year, roll up them shirt sleeves boys, vaccines for everyone.

Beginning at the 59-second mark, Bialik explained that the source of the widespread belief that she is an "anti-vaxxer" may have begun with an excerpt from her book "Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way" and clarified that she is not against vaccination:

I wrote a book about 10 years ago about my experience parenting, and at the time my children had not received the typical schedule of vaccines. But I have never, not once, said that vaccines are not valuable, not useful or not necessary, because they are. I've received a ton of negative press about this and to be quite honest, most of it was inaccurate.

Bialik went on at the one-minute 34-second mark:

Here's the truth: The truth is, I delayed vaccinations for reasons that you don't necessarily get to know about simply because you follow me on social media. So, some children have allergies which are exacerbated by ingredients in vaccines. Some children are highly susceptible to seizures from fevers, which vaccines can cause. Some children have compromised immune systems. As of today, my children may not have had every one of the vaccinations that your children have, but my children are vaccinated. I repeat, my children are vaccinated.

But Bialik's belief in vaccination did not stop her from providing some criticism. At the two-minute 11-second mark, she said:

Now, do I think we give way too many vaccines in this country compared to when I was a vaccinated child? Yes. Do I believe that most people don't even know what Hepatitis B is but vaccinate their newborns for it anyway because they're simply told to? Yes. Do I believe there's a tremendous profit that is made from vaccines and specifically, from making sure that kids show up in school? Yes. Do we live in a society where most parents can't stay home and nurse sick children, now more than any other time in history? Absolutely. Does the medical community often operate from a place of fear in order to make money? Heck yeah, they do. Do I feel icky about injecting babies and children with tons of chemicals and parts of cows and chickens and eggs? Yeah, I feel icky about it.

But, that's not the issue right now. Here's the issue now. A lot of people -- or some people -- some people are saying they won't take the vaccine for COVID, and that's very disturbing.

Unlike some reasons given for opposing vaccination, many of Bialik's concerns do have a basis in fact. There were significantly fewer vaccines recommended for children in the 1970s, the decade when she was born than there are now. Hepatitis B, a vaccine added in 1991 for babies, is commonly spread through sexual contact and sharing needles or syringes, although transmission can occur from mother to baby at birth if the mother is affected. Some of the vaccines used in the U.S. contain animal products. However, as explained in each of these sources, there is medically sound reasoning behind these decisions.

Bialik did imply that she believes that the benefits of vaccination, especially for COVID-19, outweigh the harms. At the six-minute 42-second mark, she said:

... but I'm stacking the chips in our favor this year by making sure our immune system does not get extra compromised by what might be a harsh flu season, and it might be a mild flu season. I want my immune system to have the best chance at fighting anything that comes its way, especially if that's COVID. And while in the past I've relied on herbs and supplements and plenty of rest to boost my immune system, the increased stress and anxiety and depression that many of us are experiencing because of this quarantine and the goings-on in our country -- my immune system is already pissed off. I'm playing it as party-line safe as I can this year and I don't feel guilty about it.

The CDC has published a resource for parents titled "Why Vaccinate" that explains the benefits and addresses the concerns of vaccines.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  Christiana Dillard

Christiana Dillard is a former news writer for Temple University’s Lew Klein College of Media and Communication. She received her undergraduate degree in English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been a freelance writer for several organizations including the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation, Pitt Magazine, and The Heinz Endowments. When she’s not producing or studying media she’s binging it, watching YouTube videos or any interesting series she can find on streaming services.

Read more about or contact Christiana Dillard

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