Jessica Biel denies she is an anti-vaxxer after opposing California vaccination law

The actor said she was ‘not against vaccinations’ despite joining prominent anti-vaxxer Robert Kennedy Jr in opposition to a bill intended to reduce medical exemptions

Jessica Biel denied suggestions she was a supporter of the anti-vaccination movement after spending the day lobbying lawmakers in the US with advocate Robert F Kennedy Jr.

After news emerged of her opposition to a vaccine bill which seeks to limit medical exemptions in California and make it more difficult for parents to bypass the rules requiring children to be vaccinated before enrolling in school, Biel wrote on social media: “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.”

View this post on Instagram

This week I went to Sacramento to talk to legislators in California about a proposed bill. 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 concern with #SB277 is solely regarding medical exemptions. 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. 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. I encourage everyone to read more on this issue and to learn about the intricacies of #SB277. Thank you to everyone who met with me this week to engage in this important discussion!

A post shared by Jessica Biel (@jessicabiel) on

Biel added that the reason she had joined the opposition to the bill was “solely regarding medical exemptions”, and that it “would greatly affect [a friend’s] family’s ability to care for their child in [California]”.

According to the Los Angeles Times, officials estimate that about 40% of the 11,500 medical exemptions requested each year would be denied under the bill, which is currently under review.

Posting on Instagram, Kennedy had applauded Biel’s efforts, calling her “courageous” and for her to be applauded for “a busy and productive day”. Kennedy is chairman of Children’s Health Defense, an organisation that explicitly opposes the bill.

In another photo, Kennedy and Biel posed with Democratic Assembly member Autumn Burke, with Biel commenting: “Great meeting with both of you today.”

In an interview with the Daily Beast, Kennedy called Biel “a very effective advocate”, as well as “very strong and very knowledgeable”. He said he would not label Biel “anti-vaxx”, calling that term “pharmaceutical propaganda” and “a lie”, adding instead: “I would say that she was for safe vaccines and for medical freedom.”

Biel had not previously spoken in public on the issue, but in 2015 it was reported that she had declined to vaccinate her son with husband Justin Timberlake.

Earlier this year, the World Health Organisation called “vaccine hesitancy” one of the 10 worst health threats facing humanity. “The reasons why people choose not to vaccinate are complex,” says the organisation, citing “complacency, inconvenience in accessing vaccines, and lack of confidence”.

Contributor

Catherine Shoard

The GuardianTramp

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