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Monday, March 13, 2023

Antivaxxers Gain Ground in Montana

 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.   Even before COVID, they were fighting vaccine mandates and other public health measures. 

Keely Larson at KHN:
In 2021, Montana passed House Bill 702the first of its kind in the nation — which prohibited discrimination based on vaccine status in settings like employment, education, and health care. In effect, it banned private businesses and local governments from requiring employees to be vaccinated, not just against covid-19 but any disease. A federal judge ruled the law unconstitutional in health care settings in a lawsuit filed by hospitals, medical providers, and nurses. Two other lawsuits challenging HB 702, one by private businesses and another by tribal nations, are pending.

This year, lawmakers have introduced proposals to expand vaccine exemptions in schools and change criteria in the workplace and the legal system.

Proponents of the school-related measures include mothers advocating for their parental rights over whether to vaccinate their children; a nurse who maintained that medical choices should be private; and a day care instructor concerned about the connection between vaccines and autism, a claim that has been discredited.

Some experts say those bills, like HB 702 from two years ago, are an overreaction to the fear and anger surrounding the covid pandemic.

Those who promote vaccine exemptions on the grounds of parental rights and individual freedom should be honest about the consequences, said Cason Schmit, an assistant professor at Texas A&M University School of Public Health. Those consequences could include more people sick and dead from preventable diseases, he said.

“We know what the outcomes of these types of laws are,” Schmit said.