Maureen McCormick, who played Marcia Brady on “The Brady Bunch,” thinks people should get their information on measles from medical professionals in 2019, not sitcom episodes from 50 years earlier.
McCormick isn’t happy about anti-vaxxers pointing to a 1969 episode in which the whole Brady family comes down with measles as evidence that the disease is harmless. The kids stay home from school with mild symptoms and Marcia quips: “If you have to get sick, sure can’t beat the measles.”
McCormick tells NPR that she had measles as a child and it was nothing like the episode. “Having the measles was not a fun thing,” she says. “I remember it spread through my family.”
“As a mother, my daughter was vaccinated,” says McCormick.
Lloyd Schwartz, son of late “Brady Bunch” creator Sherwood Schwartz, says: “Dad would be sorry, because he believed in vaccination, had all of his kids vaccinated.”
In the year the episode came out, six years after the vaccine was developed, there were at least 25,000 measles cases nationwide. Most people fully recovered, but there were 41 deaths and others suffered complications including deafness.
Before the vaccine, there were around 500 measles deaths a year. University of California medical history expert Elena Conis tells NPR that the episode is from a very different time.
“In 1969, we had less control over infectious diseases,” she says. “Smallpox was still a reality. There were far more cases of polio. In that context, it made sense to think of measles as a lesser threat.”
McCormick’s concern over anti-vaxers using her image to support their agenda comes as measles cases in the United States have surpassed the highest number on record since the disease was declared eliminated nationwide in 2000.
Most cases in the United States have emerged in communities with low rates of vaccination against the virus, according to public health officials.
Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that can spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes or if someone comes into direct contact with them or shares germs by touching the same objects or surfaces. Measles symptoms may include fever, cough, runny nose, watery eyes and a rash of red spots.AlertMe