Pete Parada: why Offspring drummer was dropped from the band over vaccines – what is Guillain Barre syndrome?

The drummer revealed in a lengthy social media post that he had caught Covid-19 last year, and felt confident that he would ‘be able to handle it again’

The Offspring drummer Pete Parada has announced that he will not be attending the band’s upcoming performances due to refusing the Covid-19 vaccine on advice from his doctor.

The Offspring, formed in 1984, is made up of lead vocalist and guitarist Bryan “Dexter” Holland, bassist Todd Morse, guitarist Kevin “Noodles” Wasserman and drummer Parada.

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The band is one of the best-selling punk rock bands in history, and have enjoyed hits with songs like Pretty Fly, Why Don’t You Get a Job?, The Kids Aren’t Alright and Self Esteem.

Pete Parada of The Offspring performs during the second and final day of Warped Tour (Photo: Corey Perrine/Getty Images)

What happened?

It was revealed that the drummer from the US rock band has been dropped from attending the upcoming tour after he refused the Covid-19 vaccine on medical grounds.

Parada explained that given his “medical history and the side-effect profile of [the] jabs” his doctor has advised him not to get a vaccine at this time.

He explained that since he is unable to comply with what he describes as “an industry mandate” it has been decided that he is “unsafe to be around, in the studio, and on tour”.

On Tuesday (3 August), New York became the first major US city to mandate proof of Covid-19 vaccination prior to entry to certain indoor facilities, such as restaurants, entertainment venues and gyms.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said: “If you want to participate in society fully, you’ve got to get vaccinated.”

The other members of The Offspring have not yet responded to Parada’s comments, however bassist Todd Morse has been vocally pro-vaccination on his Twitter account.

In his bio, Morse has written “Get Vaccinated!”, and he also recently retweeted a Tweet from musician Paul McCartney which featured a photo of him getting the vaccine, with the caption “BE COOL. GET VAX’D.”

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What did Pete Parada say?

In a lengthy Instagram post, Parada explained the situation.

He wrote: “I’ve got some unfortunate news to share. I know many of my close friends and family would’ve preferred to hear this privately first - and I apologise for the public nature of my disclosure, but I don’t know how to have this conversation multiple times.

“Given my personal medical history and the side-effect profile of these jabs, my doctor has advised me not to get a shot at this time. I caught the virus over a year ago, it was mild for me - so I am confident I’d be able to handle it again, but I’m not so certain I’d survive another round of Guillain-Barré syndrome, which dates back to my childhood and has evolved to be progressively worse over my lifetime.

“Unfortunately for me, (and my family - who is hoping to keep me around a bit longer) the risks far outweigh the benefits.

“Since I am unable to comply with what is increasingly becoming an industry mandate - it has recently been decided that I am unsafe to be around, in the studio, and on tour. I mention this because you won’t be seeing me at these upcoming shows.

“I also want to share my story so that anyone else experiencing the agony and isolation of getting left behind right now - knows they’re not entirely alone.

“I have no negative feelings towards my band. They’re doing what they believe is best for them, while I’m doing the same. Wishing the entire Offspring family all the best as they get back at it! I’m heartbroken not to be seeing my road community, and I will miss connecting with the fans more than I can express in words.

“While my reason for not getting this jab is medical, I want to make sure I’m not carving out a space that is only big enough for me. I need to state, unequivocally, that I support informed consent - which necessitates choice unburdened by coercion. I do not find it ethical or wise to allow those with the most power (government, corporations, organisations, employers) to dictate medical procedures to those with the least power.

“There are countless folks (like me) for whom these shots carry a greater risk than the virus. Most of us don’t publicly share a private decision we made in careful consideration with our doctors.

“We know it’s not an easy conversation to unfold. If it looks like half the population is having a shockingly different reaction to these jabs than was expected - it’s probably because their life experiences have actually been shockingly different, and their reasons range from a conscientious risk/benefit analysis, so the financial inability to take time off work/lack health care in the event of potential side-effects, to an understable distrust in a system that has never prioritized the health or well-being of their communities.

“I hope we can learn to make room for all the perspectives and fears that are happening currently. Let’s avoid the unfortunate tendency to dominate, dehumanize and shout down at each other. The hesitant population is not a monolithic group. All voices deserve to be heard.

“In the meantime, I’m in the midst of launching a project and releasing some music with my daughter, so please stay tuned for all of that. I deeply appreciate your understanding and support as my family and I find a new way forward.

“Sending love to everyone who has been impacted by this pandemic, in all the ways lives have been lost and altered.”

What is Guillain-Barré syndrome?

The NHS explains that Guillain-Barré syndrome is a “very rare and serious condition that affects the nerves”.

It says that it mainly affects the feet, hands and limbs, causing issues such as numbness, weakness and pain.

“I can be treated and most people will eventually make a full recovery, although it can occasionally be life-threatening and some people are left with long-term problems,” the NHS says.

While Guillain-Barré syndrome can affect anyone of all ages and genders, it is most common in adults and males.

The syndrome is thought to be caused by a problem with a person’s immune system, which is the body’s natural defence against illnesses and infections.

The NHS says: “Normally the immune system attacks any germs that get into the body. But in people with Guillain-Barré syndrome, something goes wrong and it mistakenly attacks and damages the nerves.

“It's not clear exactly why this happens, but the condition often happens after an infection; especially an infection of the airways, such as flu, or an infection of the digestive system, such as food poisoning or a stomach bug (gastroenteritis).”

Should those with Guillain-Barré syndrome not get the vaccine?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) released a statement at the end of July regarding the potential risks and benefits of those with Guillain-Barré syndrome receiving a Covid-19 vaccine.

The COVID-19 subcommittee of the WHO Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS) met virtually on 13 and 20 July to discuss the rare reports of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) following vaccination with the Janssen and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines.

The statement concluded by saying: “Overall the subcommittee concludes that the potential benefits of both the Janssen and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines continue to outweigh any potential risk of GBS, particularly given the increase in the more transmissible Delta variant.”

Additionally, UK charity GAIN (Guillain-Barré & Associated Inflammatory Neuropathies), said: “If vaccines caused GBS at a frequency of 1:100000 or more, we would have seen a doubling in cases. If the rate were 1 per million doses, we might only just see it. Therefore, the cases we are seeing are those that would probably occur anyway.”

“Recurrence of GBS is extremely rare, and so even if it was related the chance of a second episode would be almost zero. And since it is unlikely that it is really a link and that the benefits of vaccine far outweigh any risk that would suggest the second dose probably should be given.”