In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing disease to spread.
Opposition to vaccination has been gathering pace for some time now. Not only among mums on "organic food Facebook", but among swathes of Republican politicians, Hollywood celebrities and the religious far-right. We've seen vaccination rates in decline across the US and the UK, with alarming results: last year the US experienced their worst measles outbreak since 1992, while the World Health Organisation recently removed the UK’s "measles-free" status. But now that we're facing the vastest and deadliest pandemic since the 1918 Spanish influenza outbreak, have any of these anti-vaxxers changed their minds?
Experts have expressed fears that misinformation and scaremongering from the anti-vaxxer community might make it difficult for us to eradicate COVID-19 completely once a vaccine becomes available. Conspiracy theories abound when it comes to vaccination, particularly in certain regions where legal battles continue to rage. “If you’re still thinking it’s coincidental that a pandemic erupted in the midst of a state by state sweep to remove your right to refuse vaccination, it’s time to get your head out of the sand,” reads one post on the vaccine-sceptic Facebook group Oregonians for Healthcare Choice. In fact, according to recent research by Emerson Polling, more than ten percent of Americans wouldn’t get a coronavirus vaccine, which is frightening considering the rate at which it spreads.