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Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Vaccines and Republicans

 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.

UnfortunatelyRepublican politicians and conservative media figures are increasingly joining up with the anti-vaxxers

Alan Greenblatt at Governing:

There has always been resistance to vaccines, starting with the earliest smallpox vaccines of the 18th century. In recent years, vaccine hesitancy occurred on both the left and right, with low rates of measles vaccination in liberal enclaves such as Boulder, Colo., and Marin County, Calif. One of the most prominent vaccine skeptics is Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a scion of the liberal dynasty. “Prior to the pandemic, anti-vaccine activists fell roughly evenly along political party lines,” says Jonathan Berman, author of the book Anti-vaxxers.

But as anti-vaccine activism has grown during the pandemic, Berman notes, it’s become more partisan in nature. Opposing mandates and insisting on individual freedom to choose are messages that have resonated strongly among conservatives, particularly libertarians and white evangelicals.

At this point, with the vast majority of COVID-19 deaths occurring among the unvaccinated, it’s Republican areas that are having the worst problems. As of the middle of last month, 53 percent of people in counties that voted for President Biden were fully vaccinated, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, compared to 40 percent of Trump county residents. The death rate in counties that Trump carried by 70 percent or more has been nearly five times as high as counties where he carried less than a third of the vote, according to health analyst Charles Gaba.
The preponderance of COVID-19 deaths since the spring has occurred in the solidly Republican South, with Texas and Florida alone responsible for 30 percent of the deaths since June 15. People are twice as likely to die in rural areas, now Republican strongholds, than cities.

Steve Friess at Newsweek:

Meanwhile, signs are also mounting about the partisan nature of growing opposition to vaccines and vaccine mandates, and the shift from medical to libertarian reasoning. Asked in a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation whether getting the COVID vaccine is a matter of "personal choice" or "part of everyone's responsibility to protect the health of others," more than 70 percent of Republicans saw it as a personal choice vs. just 27 percent of Democrats. And according to a Twitter analysis by Renee DiResta, research manager of the Stanford Internet Observatory, reported in The New York Times, even anti-vaxxers whose opposition in the pre-COVID era was focused on concerns about autism and toxins are now evolving their messaging to talk about freedom and "vaccine choice."