Mayim Bialik, who once starred on the television show “The Big Bang Theory,” has made headlines in the past for controversial statements on vaccines. But in a video posted to her personal YouTube channel in October, the actress — who also holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA — said that she and her two teenage sons would be vaccinated against COVID-19. Bialik said in an interview in April with Cheddar News that she had received the vaccine.
Despite all this, a meme circulating online falsely suggests that Bialik has declined all vaccines, including the one for COVID-19. The image features a photo of Bialik framed by the words, “Holds PhD in Neuroscience. Refuses to Vaccinate #SmartParentsDon’tVax.”
The meme was posted to the Facebook page Staying Alive is Not Enough, which has over 1 million followers. Comments on the post seemed to applaud the meme’s sentiment, with some users writing “Good for her!” and “I new I would like her,” while another urged the government to “take their shot and shove it.”
Bialik, a self-described skeptic of “Big Pharm,” has received criticism for past comments in which she expressed hesitancy to vaccinate her children. In her October YouTube video, she revealed that her two sons, then 12 and 15, had never received a flu vaccine and that she had not received a vaccine in 30 years.
In a 2009 interview with People magazine, Bialik described her family as “non-vaccinating,” but said she made “no claims about people’s individual decisions.” Still, Bialik pushed back against the perception that she is “against vaccines” on Twitter in 2015, writing that her “kids are vaccinated.”
Recently, Bialik has come out in support of the COVID-19 vaccination effort, including for her children. On her YouTube channel, where she posts regularly about mental health and parenting, the actress confirmed that she had chosen to “enthusiastically vaccinate,” along with her sons, for both COVID-19 and the flu this year.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded its authorization of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in children 12 to 15 years of age on May 10. (The U.S. had previously authorized use of the vaccine for people 16 and older in December 2020.)
In a January interview with Yahoo Life, Bialik said her decision to receive the COVID-19 vaccine was “based on kind of the basic science of what’s going on in the world and how we protect ourselves.”
“It’s not that I’m, like, ‘pro every single vaccine that anyone talks about all the time everywhere, every single minute.’ I have a lot of questions about the vaccine industry, as do a lot of people,” Bialik said. “[But] when it comes to this virus, the insidiousness of this virus, the way this virus works, the way that it adapts, we absolutely need to see this as distinctly different from the flu. … This is something we need absolute protection from.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends vaccines for children against numerous viruses and diseases, including measles, mumps, rubella, rotavirus and hepatitis A and B. As with the COVID-19 vaccines, childhood vaccines are safe and effective and have greatly reduced the number of cases and deaths from several childhood diseases.
For example, the CDC says that “an estimated 3 to 4 million people got measles each year in the United States” before a measles vaccine became available in 1963, resulting in roughly 400 to 500 deaths each year. Last year, there were only 13 confirmed cases of the measles in the U.S., according to the CDC.
After starring in the 1990s sitcom “Blossom,” Bialik completed her bachelor’s degree in neuroscience in 2000 and her doctorate in neuroscience in 2007, both at University of California, Los Angeles. Her Ph.D. thesis was titled, “Hypothalamic Regulation in Relation to Maladaptive, Obsessive-compulsive, Affiliative, and Satiety Behaviors in Prader-Willi Syndrome.”
Editor’s note: SciCheck’s COVID-19/Vaccination Project is made possible by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The foundation has no control over our editorial decisions, and the views expressed in our articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the foundation. The goal of the project is to increase exposure to accurate information about COVID-19 and vaccines, while decreasing the impact of misinformation.
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@missmayim (Mayim Bialik). “dispelling rumors abt my stance on vaccines. i’m not anti. my kids are vaccinated. so much anger and hysteria. i hope this clears things up.” Twitter. 10 Feb 2015.
@missmayim (Mayim Bialik). “If @kveller says it, it must be true. I’m not against vaccines.” Twitter. 11 Feb 2015.
Ryder, Taryn. “Mayim Bialik Says She Will Get Flu and COVID-19 Vaccines, Clarifies She’s Not an Anti-Vaxxer.” Yahoo.com. 1 Oct 2020.