Adam Gabbatt at The Guardian:
In early May, a survey by two academics found that 23% of Americans would not be willing to get vaccinated against Covid-19. In a separate poll by Morning Consult, 14% said they wouldn’t get vaccinated, and another 22% were unsure. And according to a new Associated Press-NORC poll, only about half of Americans say they would get a Covid-19 vaccine if available. With more than 1.6m coronavirus cases in the US, and a more than 100,000 deaths, a mass refusal could have dangerous consequences.
Experts say social media has been a huge driving force too. Ideas that vaccines cause autism – a debunked theory still popular among anti-vaxxers – abound on Facebook, along with notions of governments and pharmaceutical companies collaborating to make money from duping regular people.
With a potential coronavirus vaccine hopefully looming, two anti-vaccine activists held a “Freedom Health Summit” in April, inviting speakers to share information they were privy to.
The speakers list read like a who’s who of discredited scientists and conspiracy theorists, including disgraced Briton Andrew Wakefield, who was stripped of his medical license after he published a fraudulent study linking the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to autism.
Despite Wakefield’s claims being disproven numerous times, he is seen as a reliable voice in the anti-vax movement, as is Judy Mikovits, a former scientific researcher popular among anti-vaccine supporters.