Unfortunately, Republican politicians and conservative media figures are increasingly joining up with the anti-vaxxers. Trump bears much of the blame. There is a great deal of overlap between MAGA World and the antivax movement.
Gretchen LaSalle, a physician and clinical assistant professor at Washington State University’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, told CNBC that the politicization of Covid and its vaccines, as well as a lack of understanding of vaccine ingredients and public health, had had “devastating” effects.
In 2020, LaSalle completed the American Academy of Family Physicians Vaccine Science Fellowship. As part of the program, she helped carry out a survey of more than 2,200 people, tracking their attitudes toward immunizations.
Covid vaccines were first administered in December 2020 in the United States.
“In living through the Covid-19 pandemic and seeing the devastating effects on lives and livelihoods with their own eyes, our theory was that people would be reminded of the vital importance of vaccination and that their confidence would increase,” LaSalle told CNBC in an email.
But 20% of respondents told LaSalle’s team they had become less confident in vaccines during the pandemic.
“This decrease is worrisome,” LaSalle said. “For illnesses like measles that require a very high percentage of the population (typically around 95%) to be immune in order to limit the spread, a decrease in vaccination percentages by even 5 to 10% could be devastating.”
For months, we’ve written in this space about how the Republicans’ pushback against coronavirus vaccine mandates could foment — and apparently has been fomenting — opposition to mandates of other vaccines, including for schoolchildren. It’s inherent in their talking points: If vaccines should be a matter of “choice,” why not those more long-standing vaccines, too? High-profile Republicans haven’t generally addressed where they draw the line and why.
Early efforts to wade into allowing more choice on other vaccines had been quickly pulled back. In Tennessee, the state momentarily prevented its health department from communicating with children about any vaccines. In Florida, a prominent state senator suggested that his state might “review” those other vaccine requirements, before walking it back.
But GOP lawmakers in other states are increasingly moving in this direction.