Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has dropped himself into the riotous social media debate over childhood vaccines after posting a photo of himself taking his newborn daughter to get immunization shots at the doctor's office.
His Facebook post on Friday shows a photo of Zuckerberg holding his daughter, Max, alongside the caption "Doctor’s visit – time for vaccines!" Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, announced the birth of their child on Dec. 1.
By Monday, the image had generated more than 3 million likes and 69,000 comments, with many presuming the post was an implicit endorsement of child vaccinations.
Social media has given a new voice to the small minority of Americans who question the wisdom of vaccinating all children. Medical organizations are unanimous: Vaccines are safe, save lives, and important to public health.
But a few, very vocal anti-vaccination groups claim that inoculating children can cause diseases or developmental disorders, like autism, despite overwhelming evidence they do not.
"I love that you are promoting vaccines!" wrote Raluca Sander on Friday. "There is so much confusion on that topic out there and it causes too much harm."
"Thank you, Mark Zuckerberg for not only creating this social media platform so that I may advocate for vaccines, but thank you for being a public health advocate yourself!" countered Angela Quinn.
Other Facebook users, however, slammed Zuckerberg, claiming that vaccinations are dangerous."Poor baby," wrote Steve Schneider on Friday. "Forget those natural immunities we got the good stuff right here in this syringe."
"Pharmaceutical companies make HUGE profits off of a sick society," Ian Humphries wrote on Friday. "Use your head people."
"Injecting newborns and infants with disease and neurotoxins is disgusting science that injures millions every year," Meredith Allyson Gibney wrote.
Experts say it's best not to challenge well-meaning but poorly informed activists.
Zuckerberg, followed by more than 48 million on his social media platform, irritated the vaccine doubters in February of last year after endorsing the non-fiction book "On Immunity," which explores the vaccination debate in America."Vaccination is an important and timely topic," Zuckerberg wrote in a Feb. 18 post. "The science is completely clear: vaccinations work and are important for the health of everyone in our community."