Anti-Vaxxer Doctor: I Don’t Care If My Kids Get Your Kids Sick

If there is any doubt that the anti-vaccine movement is morally bankrupt to the core, it was erased yesterday on CNN. A doctor and prominent anti-vaxxer crassly declared on national television that he doesn’t really care if other kids get sick because he isn’t willing to make sure his own kids get their shots.

Jack Wolfson and his family (from Wolfson's Facebook)
Jack Wolfson and his family (from Wolfson’s Facebook)

Last week, Phoenix pediatrician Tim Jacks got horrifying news–his youngest son, Eli, had been exposed to measles. An unvaccinated woman visiting the clinic had caught measles from an anti-vaxxer family that had been to Disneyland in December. This woman, in turn, passed measles to 195 other kids in the Phoenix area–including Eli. Since Eli is only 10 months old, he’s too young for the MMR vaccine. Jacks and his wife, Anna, are equally worried about their three-year-old daughter, Maggie. She was diagnosed with leukemia last summer. The chemotherapy has already made a shambles of her immune system, and has also canceled out the effects of her own measles vaccine. In an emotional post at Kid Nurse, a blog run by pediatric nurse (and former anti-vaxxer) Dani Stringer, an outraged Jacks told that anti-vaxxer parent that her “boneheaded” actions didn’t just endanger her own child, but “they affect my family and many more like us.”

To that, cardiologist Jack Wolfson said, in so many words, tough beans. Wolfson, who is from nearby Paradise Valley, refuses to vaccinate his own two sons because he believes vaccines are toxic. CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen asked Wolfson if he could live with himself if another child got gravely ill or even died after coming in contact with one of his children. Wolfson said–with a straight face–that he could. “I’m not going to put my child at risk to save another child,” he said. He added that his children were “pure,” and that it wasn’t his responsibility to protect someone else’s child. No, I’m not kidding–see for yourself:

The worst comment actually came off camera. Wolfson actually suggested that Maggie may have caught leukemia as a result of being vaccinated. I’d pay to see the Jacks family’s reaction to something that patently offensive and ignorant. My guess is that they’re probably looking for a new television.

Wolfson’s been on a roll lately–and not in a good way. On Thursday’s edition of “Erin Burnett OutFront,” Wolfson got into a rather testy exchange with medical consultant Armand Dorian. Wolfson claimed that kids “have the right to get infections,” and that most of the vaccines are for “benign childhood conditions.” Dorian hit the ceiling. He pointed out that 4,000 people got sick from measles every year prior to the vaccine being developed, and 500 of them died. “If you think that’s trivial,” he exclaimed, “I can’t believe you’re actually a physician.” It was one of many times during the exchange where I thought Dorian was going to do a facepalm on air–and if he had, I wouldn’t have blamed him. Even Burnett was dumbfounded. She reminded Wolfson that according to the CDC, measles can cause pneumonia, brain damage, deafness, and can even kill. She didn’t understand how anyone could call those “benign.”

And on Monday, Wolfson told KPNX in Phoenix–again, with a straight face–that kids actually should be getting diseases like measles, mumps, and chicken pox. Uh huh. So you mean to tell me that as a kid, I should have put myself at risk for brain damage? And you mean to tell me that we should be putting ourselves at risk for shingles later in life by not getting vaccinated for chicken pox? And you mean to tell me that we should endure the ordeals that some of our parents and grandparents had to endure by catching these diseases? Answer me that, Jack.

I wondered how otherwise intelligent people could believe this garbage. Well, here’s your answer–it’s quacks like Wolfson. I have some sympathy for anti-vaxxers who are laypeople. But for the life of me, I can’t understand how any doctor worth his salt could peddle this snake oil. In Thursday’s interview, Dorian pointed out–rightly–that by pushing this, Wolfson is violating the Hippocratic Oath. Hmmm–perhaps the Arizona Medical Board and the American Board of Internal Medicine needs to have a chat with this clown, stat. Any doctor who not only refuses to vaccinate his kids, but doesn’t care if that gets other kids sick, has no business practicing medicine.

Darrell is a 30-something graduate of the University of North Carolina who considers himself a journalist of the old school. An attempt to turn him into a member of the religious right in college only succeeded in turning him into the religious right's worst nightmare--a charismatic Christian who is an unapologetic liberal. His desire to stand up for those who have been scared into silence only increased when he survived an abusive three-year marriage. You may know him on Daily Kos as Christian Dem in NC. Follow him on Twitter @DarrellLucus or connect with him on Facebook. Click here to buy Darrell a Mello Yello.