At first glance, Melissa seems to meet all the criteria for the “crispy granola” variety. She tracks the ingredients of every product she buys and uses apps to detect anything that is not “clean”. She says she thinks she is immune to vaccinations.
“I’m not against vaccinations for everyone,” she wrote to me in a Facebook Messenger chat. “[But] I am very suspicious of pharmaceutical companies and that is the main reason I hesitate to get vaccines for myself and my family. “
But it’s not exactly on the left. Melissa, a student of a nurse and midwife in Nebraska, said she was libertarian, and while there are ideas left and right with which she agrees, her main political position is that “the government should not regulate things that do not harm others” .
The modern anti-vaccination movement in America has often associated with a stereotype of left-wing, white, wealthy mothers on the coast – these “crispy granola” types. In recent years it has happened in affluent, liberal places like Marin County, California, and Boulder, Colorado. But while the public narrative focused on these left enclaves, they were nowhere near the only regions affected by outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease: Conservative communities of Orthodox JewsFor example, some of which also oppose vaccines have seen spikes in cases as well.
How COVID-19 vaccines work
And polls over the past two decades have consistently shown that Republicans are just as likely as Democrats to be hesitant about vaccination. So while right-wing opposition to the COVID-19 vaccines may feel like a U-turn for anti-Vax in America, both sides of the political divide have always been there – but now the margins of one side have slipped into the mainstream.
“Vaccine denial has always been a place where left meets right,” said Jennifer Reich, professor of sociology at the University of Colorado and author of Calling the Shots: Why Parents Reject Vaccines.
Although anti-vaccines have been around as long as vaccines, the modern anti-vaccination movement didn’t emerge until after the 1998 publication a notorious and since withdrawn study in The Lancet, falsely claiming the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine caused autism. In the following years – partly spurred on by the support of Celebrities like Jenny McCarthy – a new era of vaccination fears began with small but violent ones Cohorts of parents who refuse to be vaccinated their children. And polls consistently showed that those small cohorts included Americans on the left and right.
Take a series of Gallup polls conducted in 2001, 2015, and 2019. Each time Gallup asked respondents the same questions about vaccines, and while there have always been opponents of vaccination across the political spectrum, the latest poll showed a surge in anti-vaccine adoption among Republicans and independents.