Anti-Vaxxers are Neither Left nor Right
Parallels have been drawn to the right wing anti immigrant movement and the anti-vaxxer crowd. Now I know that the right wing’s un-vaccinated illegals argument holds no water, but the anti-vax crowd should not be considered a left wing or right wing movement.
Who are these science-denying parents? Where do they lurk? The Wall Street Journal reported that the “vast majority of cases are in Southern California.” The WSJ added that Mark Sawyer, professor of clinical pediatrics at UC San Diego, said that in some schools around San Diego, including some upper-middle-class neighborhoods, 20% to 30% of children aren’t immunized. The WSJ quoted Sawyer: “It’s because these people are highly educated and they get on the Internet and read things and think they can figure things out better than their physician.” The Washington Post cited “wealthy communities in Los Angeles and Orange counties and in northern California with double-digit vaccination exemption rates.”
The Guardian article mentioned earlier linked vaccination opposition to the “political left, which has long been suspicious of the lobbying power of the pharmaceutical industry and its influence on government regulators, and also the fringe political right, which has at different times seen vaccination, fluoridisation and other public-health initiatives as attempts by big government to impose tyrannical limits on personal freedom.” Chris Mooney at the Washington Post, known in part for his book The Republican War on Science (Basic Books, 2006), cites two scientific studies in a column questioning the assumption that anti-vaccination involves a left-wing slant. But the authors of a study in the American Academy of Pediatrics journal Pediatrics, though they found that underimmunization and vaccine refusal cluster geographically, reported that they couldn’t explain why the clusters arose.
When I went to college, I could could not attend without the MMR stamp on my college ID. I made damn sure my kids were immunized, and the last time I got the flu shot I was amazed (I know apples and oranges ;P) the number of folks that thought I would just now get the flu.
From the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda Gates offers—and the media have conveyed—a summarizing overview. Americans take vaccines for granted, she observed, but a woman in the developing world “will walk 10 kilometers in the heat” with her child and line up to get a vaccine because she has seen what Americans have forgotten: “what measles deaths look like.”