Anti-vaccine Activists Bring Back Easily Preventable Disease

How long are we going to tolerate this?

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

If the return of Covid-19 wasn’t bad enough, anti-vaccine activists have made an already ill nation even sicker. A recent report by The Washington Post’s Lena H. Sun shows that increasing anti-vaccine sentiment, primarily among Republicans, has led to a rise in measles cases. Again. 

The outbreak, based in Columbus, Ohio, is yet another example of the self-destructive nature of the anti-vaccine movement, which has been a plague on the American public for years. According to the Post:

“ The Ohio outbreak, which began in November, comes at a time of heightened worry about the public health consequences of anti-vaccine sentiment, a long-standing problem that has led to drops in child immunization rates in pockets across the United States. The pandemic has magnified those concerns because of controversies and politicization around coronavirus vaccines and school vaccine mandates.”

Lena Sun, “Growing vaccine hesitancy fuels measles, chickenpox resurgence in U.S,” December 27th, 2022

The shift in perspective is part of a painfully evident divide. More than a third of parents with children under the age of 18 and 28 percent of American adults now say that they have not vaccinated their kids with the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps, and rubella, according to that same Washington Post report. 

Views on vaccination have also been demonstrably partisan. According to Sun’s report, 44 percent of people who identify as Republican or lean Republican believed that they should have the right to opt out of vaccination requirements. By contrast, 88 percent of Democrats said they support vaccine requirements to attend public schools. The partisan divide is similar to a CBS report on Covid-19 vaccination, which found that 33 percent of Republicans polled would not get the Covid-19 vaccine once it was available to them. Only 10 percent of Democrats said the same. Another poll by NPR found that 47 percent of Trump supporters said they would not get the vaccine once it was available. 

The partisan divide is likely to make attempts to prevent the spread of anti-vaccine propaganda even more difficult, as partisans will be unlikely to listen to figures they see as lying about vaccination and health risks they allege are associated with them. 

Further complicating the situation is a deluge of media outlets such as OAN, whose months-long campaign of conspiratorial rhetoric surrounding Covid-19 vaccines has almost certainly reinforced the distrust anti-vaxxers already had. Combine that with Elon Musk’s recent purchase of Twitter and his unwillingness to deal with far-right propaganda and conspiracy theories, and the media environment is ripe for an antivaccine wave of hysteria. 

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