WASHINGTON, D.C. — The wife of White House communications chief Bill Shine said Wednesday that childhood diseases such as measles “keep you healthy & fight cancer.”
In a series of tweets echoing anti-vaccination views she’s espoused publicly for years, Darla Shine lamented the fact her children had received the MMR vaccine, which guards against measles, mumps and rubella. She added that people of her generation – the Baby Boomers – were healthier now because they had measles as children.
“I had the #Measles #Mumps #ChickenPox as a child and so did every kid I knew – Sadly my kids had #MMR so they will never have the life long natural immunity I have,” Shine tweeted,adding, “Come breathe on me!”
“The entire Baby Boom population alive today had the #Measles as kids,” Shine tweeted later. “Bring back our #ChildhoodDiseases they keep you healthy & fight cancer.”
Shine’s husband, Bill Shine, is the White House deputy chief of staff for communications and was a former Fox News president. He exited his position at Fox News amid allegations he had mishandled reports of sexual harassment at the network. He accepted the senior position in President Donald Trump’s White House last summer.
Darla Shine’s comments come as a measles outbreak sweeps across the country, disproportionally affecting those who were not vaccinated against the disease. Shine dismissed the reports as “#Fake #Hysteria.”
As of February 7, more than 100 cases of measles had been diagnosed this year in 10 states, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Washington state is facing a massive outbreak that is mostly affecting children who did not receive vaccines against the disease. On Wednesday, officials reported 53 cases of measles in just one county, Clark.
Measles is one of the leading causes of death for children, according to the World Health Organization. It is a contagious virus that is spread through the air through coughs and sneezes, and symptoms include high fever, full-body rashes, runny nose and reddened eyes.
The measles vaccine was developed in 1963 and the disease was declared eliminated in the US in 2000 as a result of a successful vaccination program, according to the CDC. Measles outbreaks in the US now occur when the illness is brought here by others who are unvaccinated or under vaccinated, when they visit the US from a place where the virus is circulating or are visiting such a place from the US and return home infected. That is the case with the current ongoing outbreaks in New York and Washington state.
Many of those who are against vaccinations believe vaccines cause autism, a theory that has been debunked by multiple studies.
Darla Shine continued to defend her stance throughout the day as she faced criticism on social media.
“I had the measles that was the whole point of my tweet. I have life time natural immunity,” she tweeted.
The CDC reports nearly all children in the decade before 1963 had measles by the time they were 15 years old and about 3 to 4 million people were infected each year.
While people who contract measles do have a lifelong immunity, so do nearly all of the people who receive the MMR vaccine. The CDC recommends that children get two doses of the MMR vaccine: one at 12-15 months old and another at 4 to 6 years old. After one dose, the vaccine is 93% effective; after two doses, it is 97% effective — for the duration of someone’s life.
She argued at one point that the “many” of the people contracting the disease in Washington had received the MMR vaccine.
“People texting I’m spreading lies about #vaccines. I’m retweeting physicians, scientific studies, and questioning why #Media covers #MeaslesOutbreak one-sided. Many of the kids w/ #Measles in #Washington WERE #Vaccinated Go ask their #Governor,” Darla Shine tweeted.
According to information from Clark County, Washington’s Public Health Department just one of its 53 cases involved someone who had received the MMR vaccine. Forty-seven of those suffering from measles were unvaccinated and vaccination was unverified in five cases.
In her tweets extolling the benefits of having measles, Shine pointed to a 2014 CNN story where a woman who reportedly had incurable cancer was treated with a highly-concentrated measles virus that sent her cancer into remission in a procedure at the Mayo Clinic. The science behind the Mayo Clinic report hinged on a genetically engineered measles virus, designed to kill a particular kind of cancer known as multiple myeloma. The concept, known as virotherapy, does not extrapolate to the general population.
Shine hosted a radio show in 2008 and 2009, and a CNN KFile review found she devoted a significant amount of time on the show spreading unfounded and debunked conspiracy theories about vaccinations. On her show, Shine suggested a flu pandemic could be a “setup” by the government. Shine also regularly hosted members of the anti-vaccination movement on her show.