Why Coronavirus Is Fueling The Anti-vax Movement
In recent weeks the world has been shaken up, and in many instances come crashing to a halt, by Coronavirus. While this has been a major burden for society to carry, it has given people more time to read, and a compelling reason to think about vaccines again. When people ask questions and start reading, opinions change.
Like it or not, America is on the brink of major vaccine reform, and the shape that it takes will depend in large part on the conversations that we have.
I happen to be close to someone who is anti-vax, so I have had to learn how to get along with someone I disagree with without gaslighting them. If you take the time to have multiple conversations — this means you actually hear them out and listen to what they have to say — they actually have some good points. I can’t go over all the arguments here, but let’s explore some of the major arguments of those who claim to be anti-vax:
- Polio would have gone away anyway. I was shocked when I looked at the numbers of polio cases before the vaccine came out because they were steadily falling. Of course, they continued to fall afterwards. This is also a major pro argument, but we’ll get to that later. Funny enough, the reason we still have polio is because we have a new strain that mutated from a vaccine. Really. Anti-vaxers believe that there are diseases that are nearly extinct because of natural immunity and better hygiene practices, not just vaccines.
- This one is full of controversy, but it’s also a major anti-vaxer point, so buckle up: Vaccines harm a certain percentage of children. Any number of injuries could be on this list, and some have more evidence than others. This argument has legal backing from the Supreme Court. ( For those curious fact-checkers or law students who just can’t help themselves, look up Bruesewitz v. Wyeth LLC). In 1986 the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 helped companies who made vaccines by paying out claims for vaccine related injuries. They ruled that vaccines have “unavoidable, adverse side effects,” and made sure that the companies who made such drugs were not liable to pay out claims of injury. Instead the government would. This leads to number three.
- The government has paid out over $4 billion for vaccine related injuries. This makes vaccines a social program paid for by American tax payers. Anti-vaxers believe that the companies that make vaccines should also be responsible for them.
- Bonus: This isn’t an argument, but it often comes up in discussions. They can’t believe people are so mean to anti-vaxers.
The Other Side Of The Coin
Okay, enough from the anti-vax movement. I know there’s more, but for the sake of time let’s move on. Pro-vaxers, on the other hand, have arguments and counter arguments for all these points. Here’s an overview:
- Vaccines virtually eradicated polio. The end. If you disagree you’re stupid and need to wake up.
- There may be a few cases of adverse reactions, but as a whole vaccines are good for boosting a society’s immunity.
- $4 billion is a relatively low number if you look at how many people are in the United Sates, so there’s still more benefit than cost.
- Bonus: I can’t believe anyone would be anti-vax.
Why This Matters
Now you have an overview of both perspectives it really doesn’t matter which side of the coin you’re on. Both arguments have merit and I’m not here to say one is better than the other. What’s most important, however, is that we don’t try to make black and white laws that alienate people. I get when public health is involved we need standards to protect the whole. But love or hate vaccines, they are here to stay. And love or hate anti-vaxers, they are also here to stay. We need to learn how to get along and pass laws that enable people to research, speak freely, and make individual decisions. If anything we need more regulations on companies, not consumers. No one wants an unsafe product being forced on the public in the name of health. This can happen if we let our emotions trump the basic logic that it should be your choice.
Up To You
I know this has been far from comprehensive, but I hope it has opened up a discussion and broadened your perspective. The asymmetry in argument length from both sides is intentional. People who are anti-vax just have more to say on the topic of vaccines. This is common in any sort of revolutionary idea. Anti-vaxers are like Galileo for saying the world is not the center of the universe. When people are set in their ways, especially if they have religious reasons tied to those ways, they board up the windows and don’t let anything in. But the truth is not what you think it ought to be. Remember, science is a method of asking questions. Humans like to gravitate to one answer scientists publish and say things like “The science is settled.” But science isn’t as much about what we know as it is about what we don’t know. And there’s a lot we don’t know about vaccines. So please, keep you mind open and ask questions. Vaccine reform is coming and you need to be a part of it. Whether vaccines are a free market product or a socialist program will be up for debate as the COVID-19 vaccine comes out in the next year. Will individuals and families have the choice to use the product or will it be mandatory? If mandatory, how far will we go to make sure it is enforced? These are just a few of the questions we need to ask. There is still much to learn.