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Saturday, June 27, 2020

Anti-Vaxxers and Anti-Maskers

In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread  And among those diseases could be COVID-19.
Hannah Wiley at The Sacramento Bee:
At every stage of the pandemic, California’s anti-vaccine activists have foreshadowed what their fight against a future vaccine to prevent COVID-19 could look like.
“If we can’t win the mandatory mask argument, we won’t win the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination argument,” Larry Cook, founder of the Los Angeles-based group Stop Mandatory Vaccination, wrote in a June 21 tweet. “They are 100% connected.”
Trump's "Operation Warp Speed" is giving antivaxxers an opening.
“I’m already hearing some states talking about pushing a vaccine mandate for the coronavirus, even though it hasn’t been developed yet,” said V is for Vaccine leader Joshua Coleman.
Coleman’s group coordinated a rally at the Capitol Tuesday for “ex-vaxxers,” or people who no longer vaccinate their kids, to protest what they consider censorship of their perspectives. Registration for the event cost participants $42.
“I’m worried that (the coronavirus) issue is going to be used as an excuse,” Coleman continued, “that the ‘antivax community’ is being careless and it’s time to censor them completely and remove them from social media platforms.”
State Senators Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, and Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga, also spoke at the event and were honored for voting last year against Senate Bill 276, a vaccine crackdown law that Democrats approved and Newsom signed.
The protests and social media posts haven’t necessarily surprised Leah Russin, founder of pro-vaccine and parental advocacy group Vaccinate California, but they have worried her.

Russin has worked for years against California’s anti-vaccine lobby to get immunization laws written by state Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, passed at the Capitol. Senate Bill 277 four years ago eliminated personal beliefs from the list of reasons school kids can skip their shots. SB 276 last year increased oversight of doctors who issue high numbers of medical exemptions for students.
At STAT, Senator Pan rites about the anti-vaxxers:
Since mid-April, 27 state and local health leaders across 13 states have resigned, retired, or been fired, some citing threats and pressure from outside groups.
The attack on public health goes all the way to the desk of President Trump, who recently retweeted a post with the hashtag #FireFauci.

Politicians who politicize the coronavirus pandemic are emboldening extremists who target public health officers like Dr. Nichole Quick, the chief health officer of Orange County, Calif., and Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Health Department, both of whom recently resigned their public health posts. At an Orange County Board of Supervisors meeting, an anti-vaccine extremist threatened Quick and announced her home address, inciting protesters to visit her house. In Ohio, armed demonstrators marched outside Acton’s home. These missions were straightforward: Bully public health officials into supporting their demands.

California is not the only state where legislators and public health advocates have been threatened. Similar intimidation tactics were used in Oregon, Washington, New York, New Jersey, and Colorado. Physicians such as Paul Offit, Todd Wolynn, and Nicole Baldwin have endured personal attacks, including fake practice ratings and death threats, for supporting vaccination. Parents sharing stories of their children who died of vaccine-preventable diseases have faced heartbreaking hatred and bullying from the same extremists, as have individuals who speak out in support of vaccines.
The extremists are crowing about their success in forcing the resignations of Quick and Acton, and are planning to target more public health officers.