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 measles and COVID-19.Unfortunately, Republican 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.
Steven Shepard at Politico:
The POLITICO | Morning Consult survey is a current snapshot of public opinion on vaccines. Other polls demonstrate the breadth of the movement among self-identified Republicans. In 2016, according to Pew Research Center’s polling, 82 percent of Americans — including 83 percent of Democrats and 79 percent of Republicans — said public-school students should be required to be vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella.
But earlier this year, Pew’s polling showed the overall number who thought the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine should be mandatory had dropped to 70 percent, with a large gap between the parties. Democrats held roughly steady over the seven-year period, at 85 percent. But the share of Republicans who thought the vaccine should be mandatory slid sharply, to 57 percent.
In the POLITICO | Morning Consult poll, respondents were similarly asked whether common childhood vaccines should be required to attend public school — but were offered a third option about whether exemptions should be offered for health and religious reasons. A slight majority of voters, 53 percent, said the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine should always be required, including 65 percent of Democrats, 47 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of independents.
The increased doubts about vaccines among Republican voters come as party leaders flirt with unproven or discredited claims about the shots’ safety. From former President Donald Trump’s unfounded suggestions during the 2016 campaign that childhood vaccines could cause autism, to Ron DeSantis’ administration this month discouraging Floridians under the age of 65 from getting a Covid booster, political leaders in the GOP have tried to tap into the anti-vaccine elements of the party.
...In fact, the Republican voters who are most uneasy about vaccines are more likely to vote for Trump than other candidates, despite his role in developing the Covid shot. A third of Trump-supporting Republicans (34 percent) said vaccines in general are unsafe for children under 18. That’s double the share of Republicans supporting one of his opponents in the primary, only 17 percent, who said most vaccines aren’t safe for kids.