Once an influential anti-COVID-19 vaccine influencer, Heather Simpson talks about shifting her perspective and explains why she is now pro-vaccine.
A Dallas native and loving mother to a daughter and two kittens, Heather made a name for herself in what some may view as fringe circles of the internet. Garnering hundreds of thousands of followers on social media by sharing (often, and sometimes loudly) her doubts and perceived concerns with vaccinations and many other Western medicine practices.
Though these circles are in fact far from fringe. Today there are as many as 85 million Americans eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19 but have chosen not to receive it. People from all walks of life, from all across the country, with a shared mistrust in the efficacy and safety of the vaccine—and an often unproven, or scientifically incorrect, fact base propelling their hesitancy.
Her Journey to Anti-Vaxx
Simpson’s trust in doctors began to decline when she was trying to get pregnant, after enduring many fertility treatments, and as many failures to conceive. Wanting to try everything possible, she approached her doctor to ask if changing her diet could help with her fertility issues? Her doctor quickly said no, dismissing the suggestion completely. Feeling frustrated and unheard, Heather decided to take matters into her own hands.
“I kind of took control, I started a really strict keto diet and got pregnant the next cycle. That’s when I started to lose trust in doctors,” Simpson explains.
When her daughter was born, like many nervous first-time mothers, Heather found herself glued to the baby monitor, watching her baby girl sleep on a near-constant basis. It’s how she noticed she wasn’t breathing normally—abruptly stopping and starting again as she slept. For two months, Simpson begged doctors to take a closer look at her daughter but again was met with rejection.
“They were like ‘we can’t find anything, you’re just an anxious new mom.’ I finally got them to agree to a sleep study when she was two months old to shut me up basically,” Simpson said.
The sleep study showed her daughter had severe sleep apnea, and the doctors explained she would need to be transferred to ICU the next day.
“I don’t think my daughter would have lived if I didn’t push. All of this led to how I began thinking, ‘Why would I trust them with vaccines? They’re not even doing what common sense is telling them to do,” Simpson recalls.
From there, Heather dove deep into research about vaccines and in her search came across a Facebook ad titled, The Truth About Vaccines, a docu-series that shed a starkly negative light on the dangers of vaccines, particularly in children. Simpson recalled seeing parents crying, children disabled and felt horrified.
It’s what propelled her to seek alternative treatments to care for her family’s health, as she began to reject the safety and value of vaccinations and all practices of Western medicine in their entirety. But Heather found a community among like-minded anti-vaxxers, who were eager to welcome her with open arms.
Why She Made the Switch
While she quickly found common ground within this community, peers among her also strongly believed in herbal medicines and the importance of using products without toxins. She also found herself questioning some of the practices being adopted among them.
“In my opinion, they did a lot of things that put kids at risk. Some would use bleach or ammonia to try and cure their children of autism, and were opposed to all antibiotics,” Simpson explains.
“I was really scared that the COVID-19 vaccine would change our DNA, or cause infertility,” Simpson recalls, as she goes on to explain how she began to see the sickness spreading.
“I saw a lot of people start dying from Covid. Young people. Healthy people. There was a 35-year old man in my town that got the vaccine in November and he still died. My friend’s dad, who is young, also got covid and died. Another friend’s mother, who was also healthy, also became sick and died,” Simpson explains.
“I was watching all this happen and I thought to myself, ‘What if I get Covid, and leave my daughter without a mom?” Heather recalls.
Once again, Heather began doing her own research, meeting with friends, doctors, and others to understand their perspectives.
“I was able to meet with a lot of doctors and healthcare professionals—and they were able to write down how the vaccine worked for me,” Simpson says. For the first time since the pandemic, Heather was understanding the science behind the vaccine, and the virus.
After getting information from people she trusted, Simpon went to Baylor University Medical Center and received her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19.
What she has to Say to Those Still Vaccine Hesitant
Because she spent so many years believing deeply in her reasons for vaccine-hesitancy, Heather says she understands the fears of anti-vaxxers—but says she now believes that the only way to see an end to the pandemic, and the horrible toll it’s taken on her friends and family, is through herd immunity through vaccination.
“I even got to the point where I feel like, even if the vaccine does cause some unforeseen effect in the future, I would still rather not get Covid—even with the unknowns,” Simpson explains.
Heather has used her platform in a new way, recommending to people who are vaccine-hesitant that they should talk to others, they should seek out the information they need to understand the science behind the vaccine. She also encourages people who are already vaccinated to reach out to people who may be hesitant.
Simpson concludes, “It just takes one person to change a mind, one person to help one other person get their shot. I want everyone to understand that sharing experiences and information can go a really long way.”
Additional information addressing other questions and concerns on the COVID-19 vaccine is available here.