John Oliver took aim at vaccine skeptics on Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, blaming the misinformation and confusion on everything from the rising popularity of memes to Donald Trump’s statements on the campaign trail.
“Despite [vaccines’] success, small groups are both skeptical and vocal about vaccines, which is nothing new,” the host said. “But these days their voice has been amplified by the human megaphone that is the president of the United States.” Trump has often advocated for vaccinating with smaller doses over a longer period. “No more massive injections,” the mogul tweeted in 2014. “Tiny children are not horses – one vaccine at a time, over time.”
Many parents have embraced the spacing-out movement: A 2015 survey in the journal Pediatrics found that 93 percent of pediatricians, in a “typical month,” were asked at least once to delay vaccines. But Oliver argued that, despite the reassurance it might bring, that method is a “middle ground between sense and nonsense.” “It’s like saying, ‘It would be crazy to eat that entire bar of soap, so I’ll just eat half of it,'” he cracked.
After exploring the frightening rise of measles, Oliver reiterated the lack of scientific evidence linking the MMR vaccine to autism. Alison Singer, president of the Autism Science Foundation, said her organization investigated “dozens of studies” and wound up with no proof of a link: “There comes a point where there’s so much evidence, none of which shows any link between vaccines and autism, that you have to say ‘enough.'”
Oliver, aware of the powerful effects of social media, concocted a hilarious anti-vaccine meme in the voice of Jesus Christ: “Do you seriously need some sort of wise quote to convince you on this one? Just, like, don’t be a dick.” He also took a more personal approach, explaining that despite his numerous fears (everything from spiders to “a sudden and mysterious lack of spiders”), he is vaccinating his infant son “fully on schedule.”
“If I can overcome the temptation to listen to the irrational shouting of my terrified lizard brain,” he said, “then I believe that everyone can.”