GOP opposition to vaccine mandates far beyond Covid-19

STATNews shared yesterday that a significant portion of vaccine opposition from right-wing legislators extends far beyond the Covid-19 shot, but their efforts are frequently disguised within rhetoric focused on Covid.

[Emphasis added] In Idaho, a lawmaker introduced a bill that would define vaccine mandates — of any kind — as a form of assault.

In Florida, a prominent state senator has called for a review of all vaccine requirements, including many widely accepted for decades, like polio and the measles, mumps, and rubella shot.

And in Montana, the Republican governor recently signed into law a new bill that forbids businesses, including hospitals, from enforcing any vaccination requirements as a condition of employment. 

This new, across-the-board revolt against vaccine requirements of any kind could begin to reverse a century of progress against diseases that, thanks to vaccines, are afterthoughts to most Americans. 

Headline from anti-vaccination pamphlet published during 1885 Montréal smallpox epidemic [All photos, CNN]

“If you [challenge] all of the childhood vaccinations that are required, we could be in a really serious situation with outbreaks of diseases that long ago should have been eliminated in our society. We just can’t have that,” said Anthony Fauci in a Tuesday interview at the 2021 STAT Summit. 

[Emphasis added] A Tennessee proposal banning employer vaccine mandates doesn’t specify which immunizations it would apply to, meaning it effectively would apply to any requirement.

Alabama’s GOP governor recently signed a new law banning any new vaccine mandates in schools, beyond those that already exist — a measure clearly aimed at Covid but with a potential impact on future immunization efforts.

In 2020, the World Health Organizations reported that across the globe, childhood immunization rates dropped from 86% to 83%. Roughly 23 million babies didn’t receive basic vaccines normally given, the highest number since 2009. 

Scott Gottlieb, the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner and Pfizer board member, has expressed caution about imposing vaccine mandates.

But an anti-vaccine generation might already be the reality. According to one recent poll, the partisan divide over Covid-19 vaccination has crept into the country’s annual flu vaccination campaign. 

“It’s the perfect storm, because there’s growing vaccine hesitancy, an anti-vax lobby growing more powerful, and this growing milieu of disinformation,” said Nahid Bhadelia of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Policy and Research at Boston University. “There is a general societal movement here in the U.S. to undermine public health recommendations.” 

“There are real conversations to be had about individual liberty versus public health, government overreach, all of that stuff,” Bhadelia said. “But the level to which this has been politicized — it’s on purpose, and it’s toward the goal of continuing to create strife around the pandemic.”

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