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.
Unfortunately, Republican politicians are increasingly joining up with the anti-vaxxers.
The new YouGov poll shows that fewer than half of Republicans — 46 percent — now say parents should be required to vaccinate their children against infectious diseases.
That’s both far shy of where Democrats are at — 85 percent — and also far shy of where Republicans used to be. Used to be, as in last year.
YouGov has polled this question repeatedly over the years, and up until recently Republicans were in a pretty similar place to Democrats. Back in 2015, both 81 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of Republicans believed such vaccines should be mandated for children.
And that split held pretty constant, through 2020 — until the coronavirus vaccines.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the gap grow, with Republicans turning more against mandatory childhood vaccines. The Pew Research Center polled the issue in 2009 and found virtually no partisan difference. But by 2015, with some Republicans floating the idea of more of a choice for parents (and the GOP preparing to nominate a man who had baselessly linked vaccines to autism), there became a little separation. While 76 percent of Democrats favored mandatory vaccines, 65 percent of Republicans did.
Maybe respondents are thinking about COVID vaccines, not vaccines in general, but...
Republicans have often distilled this talking point down to “no vaccine mandates” rather than saying “no coronavirus vaccine mandates.” The party has also co-opted the “my body, my choice” language generally used by abortion rights supporters.
This is helpful for them because it simplifies the argument as a libertarian one, without bothering with the meddling issue of why you oppose mandating one fully approved vaccine (for the coronavirus) but not others. The GOP has struggled mightily to explain why it’s drawing the line there, especially since the Pfizer vaccine obtained full approval.