Why Joanna Gaines’ Instagram Got Flooded With Anti-Vaccine Comments

When Joanna Gaines posts a photo on Instagram, it sometimes feels like the entire internet responds. (Or, at least, the sizable portion of the internet that’s still as obsessed with Fixer Upper as we are!) Usually, that swift response is a great thing. But not so much in the case of a recent Instagram post, which showed Crew Gaines, baby number 5, at the pediatrician’s office for a weigh-in.

Things started off innocently enough. Plenty of Fixer Upper fans gushed over how cute Crew looks with his dad, Chip, looking down at him on the exam table. But soon enough, the comments section on the post was flooded with comments about an unrelated topic: vaccines. Here’s exactly what happened.

Joanna Gaines posted an adorable photo of baby Crew

Joanna Gaines, who has more than 8.5 million followers on Instagram, posted a sweet image of Chip and the couple’s two-month-old baby, Crew, at the pediatrician’s office. The caption she appended the post had nothing to do with vaccines. And it definitely didn’t mention whether or not the Gaineses plan to follow the CDC-recommended schedule of vaccines with Crew. Instead, Joanna simply wrote, “Weigh in day at the doctor. . . @chipgaines always seems to make things better.”

The weigh-in is a routine part of regular checkups for babies, as the Mayo Clinic reports. However, regular checkups can also involve vaccinations. And the Mayo Clinic makes it clear that “Your baby will need various vaccines at well-baby visits.” Of course, Joanna didn’t mention anything about immunizations. But things escalated quickly as Fixer Upper fans started to worry about whether a doctor was waiting out of the frame with a syringe.

Comments about vaccinations began to pour in from Joanna’s followers

Not long after Joanna Gaines posted her sweet photo, fans started to respond in a way that the Fixer Upper star probably didn’t anticipate. “Don’t vaccinate your precious baby!” one Instagram user commented. Another wrote, “Vaccines are poisoning our children.” Still another added, “All vaccinations are bad. Society has you believe they’re all good. “And one claimed that vaccines contain “toxic ingredients that cause cancer and other side effects like asthma, autoimmune diseases, and SIDS!”

The comments just got more emphatic from there. “Children are MUCH safer unvaccinated! Sounds like bad parenting to me if you play Russian Roulette with your child’s life,” one commenter wrote. She added, “NO WAY IN HELL would I vaccinate poison in my children these days.” Another Instagram user commented, “Vaccines work great! If the goal is to destroy natural immunity, your gut microbiome, your brain with known neurotoxins, and your future fertility.”

Plus, multiple commenters projected their personal philosophies onto Chip and Joanna Gaines as the debate unfolded. “I always assumed Joanna was a quiet antivaxer given her lifestyle,” one wrote. “If she is provax, it would be somewhat shocking, and heaven help that baby survive the aluminum mercury aborted fetal tissue, pesticides, dead baby animals, etc. Vaccines are neither safe nor effective, and frankly, it’s pseudoscience.” Another took the opposite tack, writing, “I’m glad to see you’re a good mom by getting your children vaccinated.”

Some commenters came to Joanna’s defense

At least a few of the Instagram users watching the comments pour in realized that Joanna Gaines hadn’t asked for the controversy when she posted the photo. After all, the mom of five said nothing about immunizations in her caption for the post. And she hasn’t responded to the flood of comments, either. “It’s really nobody’s business what Joanna and Chip decide to do with their own babies,” one commenter wrote. “WHY are people fighting about vaccinations?!?! Enjoy the photo and move on,” another advised.

Another Fixer Upper fan reminded fellow commenters that “Bullying (mom shaming) doesn’t look good on anyone.” A fellow Instagram user wrote, “Why do people feel the need to tell others how to parent?” Similarly, one user commented, “It’s a picture of a baby. Not a platform for argument about vaccines. ” And another added, “This is not the right forum to be having a ‘vaccine vs. no vaccine’ debate. Joanna and Chip shared a photo, that’s it. It is none of our business what their decision is.” Unsurprisingly, those remarks didn’t staunch the flow of vaccine-related comments.

Fixer Upper fans continued their habit of weighing in on Crew’s health (and on the Gaines’ parenting)

The post has gathered more than 8,000 comments so far. That sounds intense. But this isn’t the first time that the Gaines’ followers have offered their unsolicited opinions on Crew’s health. As Stat reported in early 2018, when Joanna Gaines posted an ultrasound image to Instagram, fans got excited. But “the conversation took a dark turn when a physician commented that the ultrasound appeared to show that Gaines’s baby might have hydrops fetalis,” a potentially fatal condition. Stat noted that ethically, it’s unclear whether doctors should weigh in on social media.

If a social media contact posts a photo of herself smoking, must we respond with 1-800-QUIT-NOW? Is it incumbent on us to respond with the facts when a social media friend posts a link to a discredited study stating the vaccines cause the flu or autism?

The Gaines’ physicians have a clear obligation to provide them with information about their children’s health. (Nobody’s debating that.) But the medical establishment isn’t even sure whether other doctors who follow Joanna Gaines should comment with their opinions. So what does that mean for all those Instagram users who don’t have medical degrees, but decided to leave anti-vaccine comments anyway?

People can weigh in with their opinions. But they definitely don’t get a guarantee that  Chip and Joanna Gaines will take medical advice from the peanut gallery on Instagram.

Read more: Why Fans Have Turned on Chip and Joanna Gaines from ‘Fixer Upper’

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