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Why a Photo of Mark Zuckerberg’s Baby Is Reigniting the Vaccine Debate

It’s gotten a lot of likes on Facebook.

Doctor's visit -- time for vaccines!

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Friday, January 8, 2016\n

Just another day for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg: A photo he posted January 8 has garnered more than 3.2 million likes, almost 33,800 shares, and a whole bunch of angry comments. The relatively innocuous picture is of his new baby girl, Max, waiting in her styling onesie in a doctor’s office. “[T]ime for vaccines!” Zuckerberg wrote.

Pro-vaccine commentators praised the tech leader for his public support.

Image via Facebook

Image via Facebook

“Anti-vaxxers,” meanwhile, urged Zuckerberg to get the full story, some pointing to a supposed link between childhood vaccines and autism. This belief, it should be noted, stems from a discredited 1998 study published by a doctor whose medical license was eventually revoked.

Over at Slate, science writer Phil Plait does a good job of dispelling some prevalent vaccine myths surfaced by the Facebook post. There are toxins in vaccines, he writes, but there are also “toxins in everything—literally everything,” though not in high enough concentrations to be dangerous to children. An example: formaldehyde, which is indeed in some vaccines. But your baby would absorb more formaldehyde from eating a single apple than getting a shot.

The CDC estimates that the United States’ 20-year-old immunization program has prevented more than 21 million child hospitalizations and 732,000 child deaths.

Zuckerberg himself explained it pretty well in another Facebook post last year. “Vaccination is an important and timely topic,” he wrote. “The science is completely clear: Vaccinations work and are important for the health of everyone in our community.”

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