New Research Shows that Anti-Vaxxers May be a Problem When We Get a Covid-19 Vaccine
We have written often about the growing anti-vaccination movement in the United States, driven by conspiracy theories and occasionally embraced by our current President.
Illuminate: "The modern anti-vaccine movement is often associated with Andrew Wakefield, a now disgraced British physician and medical researcher known for his fraudulent study alleging a link between the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and autism. Wakefield's license to practice medicine was eventually revoked in the UK after other researchers found that he had substantial conflicts of interest and had falsified his data. But, unfortunately, the damage was done and the anti-vaccination movement was off and running, driven by social media and a variety of conspiracy theories centered around "big pharma" partnered with The Centers for Disease Control [CDC] in some sort of corrupt cabal. The Vaccination Information Network is a good example with some links to "infowars"...yes, that "infowars". And President Trump's embrace of the anti-vax movement added fuel to the fire."
Generally, a person's choice about medical treatment is their own business, but when it has consequences for all of us it becomes a public policy issue and state and local governments have a responsibility to step in. And, vaccination regimens are a good example of that because they only work if enough of us agree to receive the vaccine.
The Conversation: "According to some estimates, 50% to 70% of Americans would need to develop immunity to COVID-19 – either naturally, or via a vaccine – in order to thwart the spread of the virus. If these estimates are correct, that could mean that nearly twice as many Americans would need to elect to receive a COVID-19 vaccine than those who currently opt to be vaccinated against seasonal influenza. Just 37% of American adults did so in 2017-2018, even in the midst of a historically severe flu season."
A new poll, conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News, has some discouraging news on that score.
ABC: "One-quarter of Americans said they were not likely to get vaccinated, even if a safe and effective [Covid-19] vaccine was developed."
In the midst of a cataclysmic pandemic such a mindset might seem odd, even a bit suicidal, but it reflects the success of a vigorous and organized social media campaign by anti-vaxxers that is just getting started.
CBS News: "Larry Cook, an anti-vaccine proponent with almost 50,000 subscribers on YouTube, posted on Facebook: "Make no mistake, the purpose of the coronavirus is to help usher in vaccine mandates. Be woke. Know the Plan. Prepare. Resist." The HighWire, a radio show hosted by film producer and anti-vaccine activist Del Bigtree, pushed the unsupported claim that COVID-19 created in a lab and suggested it may have had something to do with vaccine development. A slew of conspiracies are also cropping up on Facebook groups geared toward vaccine skepticism."
If you are interested in finding out more about the anti-vax response to the Covid-19 crisis, you can read more here. It's both hilarious [the 5G connection] and depressing.
So, who are the folks that buy into such conspiracy theories? Apparently a lot of them are the same folks you see protesting stay-at-home restrictions at state capitals around the country. Dr. Matthew Motta, of Oklahoma State University cross referenced recent survey data and found that many anti-vaxxers also believe there is a conspiracy to overhype the dangers of Covid-19.
CBS News: "Motta analyzed two sets of Pew Research Survey data that had overlapping respondents (one on Americans' concerns over COVID-19 and the other on Americans' views on childhood vaccines), and found a 40% overlap between those skeptical of vaccine safety and those who believe the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is exaggerating the risks of COVID-19."
And, there are now concrete partnerships forming between anti-vaxxers and anti-stay-at-home protesters.
Quartz: "On May 1, the Freedom Angels Foundation, a group that opposes mandatory vaccines, led a protest of hundreds of people in Sacramento, California, demanding the end to the state’s lockdown restrictions. This group represents a branch of anti-vaccination protesters who emphasize individual autonomy and strongly resist government oversight. They use the same arguments rejecting mandatory vaccines to push back against the ongoing mandatory lockdowns."
Understanding the relationship between the two groups provides both clarity and concern. If someone is willing to grab their gun and head off to the capital to protest stay-at-home restrictions, how might they react to future legislation mandating Covid-19 vaccinations for themselves and their children? Yeah, that could be messy unless we also undertake a robust publicity campaign designed to expose and undermine the conspiracy nonsense being peddled by the anti-vaccination crowd.
By: Don Lam & Curated Content