Not Even Covid-19 Will Silence the Anti-Vaxxers

Virginia Pelley

Perhaps at no point in recent memory has America been so fluent — or at least reliant — on science. To understand R0 values, aerosolization, comorbidities, and antivirals in the news one needs to have a passing familiarity with virology, epidemiology, and, yes, vaccinology. With this familiarity comes the expected spike in public trust for doctors, health leaders (Brad Pitt as Anthony Fauci, anyone?), and healthcare workers. What they do is wildly complex! Also, it truly saves lives!

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But what of trust in vaccinations? Going into the pandemic, confidence in vaccinations was high — 77 percent of people polled in a 2018  U.S. survey approved of them. But still, the number was not as high as most medical experts would like and had slipped some 8 percent in the past decade. With so much riding on a vaccine to end a pandemic (even if it’s still a year out), will this trajectory reverse?

On the surface, it seems so. Doctors say they’re seeing an upswing in vaccine confidence in their practices as well. “There’s a renewed awareness of how important vaccines are,” says Jay W. Lee, MD, a family physician in Huntington Beach, California. “COVID-19 is showing us exactly what a world without vaccines looks like.”

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“To say that they’re suspicious of a potential vaccine would be an understatement. A lot believe that this is finally the moment we put microchips in vaccines to track people and usher in the new world order.”

“The anti-vax movement is well-funded and organized and attacks the idea of vaccines from multiple angles. While we idiots think,’I’ll publish another paper and just show the results.’ We’re not combatting it on the right front.”

“A problem in our field is that we automatically get our guard up and think we’re talking to Jenny McCarthy every time we get a question about vaccines.”