At The Guardian, Alexandra Villarreal reports on the Informed Consent Action Network (Ican), which takes legal action against vaccination requirements.
Ican was founded in 2016 by one of the loudest voices in the US anti-vaccine movement, Del Bigtree, who produced the widely discredited propaganda movie Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe. For the last year, the nonprofit has capitalized on fear surrounding supposed vaccine mandates, going on the offensive months before any lifesaving vaccines became available to the public. Now, as vaccine hesitancy persists, Ican’s legal blitz has fueled disinformation, using costly legal threats to deter schools and businesses from implementing vaccination requirements.
Vaccine requirements are already commonplace in academic settings and among healthcare workers in the US. But the specter of Covid-19 vaccine mandates nevertheless became a “calling card” for anti-vax groups like Ican – a lightning rod to “rally people” and “sow a lot of contentiousness”, said Rekha Lakshmanan, director of advocacy and public policy at the Immunization Partnership.
“There’s a theme of being very pre-emptive and opportunistic to sort of lay this foundation and seeds of doubt,” Lakshmanan said.
In fact, Ican may have targeted mandates so strongly because the Covid-19 vaccine – which has already reached more than 65% of US adults – represents “an existential threat” to its mission, Riley said.
“The more used to vaccination people are – and this is a population-wide experience – the less traction Ican has as an anti-vax organization,” she added.