Comedy and medicine: Why we mock parents who don’t vaccinate their children

By Keisha Ray, Ph.D.

In a recent episode of his late night talk show Jimmy Kimmel, father and comedian, included a segment in which real physicians mock parents who do not vaccinate their children in a mock public service announcement. Because Kimmel said it best, here is a long quote from his opening segment:

“If you are one of these anti-vaccine people you probably aren’t going  to take medical advice from a talk show host…and I don’t expect you to. But I would expect you to take medical advice from almost every doctor in the world…See the thing about doctors is they didn’t learn about the human body from their friends’ Facebook page. They went to medical school where they studied all sorts of amazing things like how to magically prevent children from contracting horrible diseases. ”

Kimmel then states that unvaccinated children can infect other children and says “but you know that’s according to doctors, so take that with a grain of salt.” Keeping with the doctors don’t know anything theme, Kimmel makes the claim that people who don’t vaccinate their children because they know more than doctors shouldn’t go to the doctor for any other reason. This includes cutting their head open because why would they want to go to someone who knows less than they do, “oh and by the way you should also let your kids smoke, why wouldn’t you? The only people who say not to are doctors and they don’t know.”

The actual mock PSA includes multiple real doctors stating the benefits of vaccinations and stating how many years they had to go to school to prove that they know what they are talking about.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.