Being Anti-vax Doesn’t Mean What It Used To

Jul 19, 2021 | Science/Skepticism/Technology | 12 comments

In the past I haven’t shown up here as a political commentator or even particularly opinionated on current topics. But always always I’ve been a proponent of everything that supports the highest good of the community. Increasingly I’m aware that the way you and I can support our communities at this time is to get vaccinated against the worldwide plague that is COVID-19. The sooner, the better.

So, in this guest post, Daniel Weinstein (my husband), makes the case for protecting yourself, family, friends and your community by getting vaccinated. I believe this must be done, even though it may be taking a position that alienates some of my yoga family.


Being anti-vax doesn’t mean what it used to mean

I’ve been pro-vax since I got the Sabin polio vaccine in a sugar cube in the 1950s. They made sense to me then. As I learned more about science they made more sense. As I learned about history and public health they made even more. Vaccination is the single most successful public health activity there has ever been. Many millions of lives have been saved and untold human suffering avoided.

I know some of you don’t agree with me. I don’t want to convince anyone of anything in this article. Of course, if you’re open to being convinced we can talk later. For now I want to comment on how the anti-vaccination movement has been changed by COVID-19.

In order to avoid doing a whole lot of unnecessary typing I’m going to use the acronym “AV” for the term anti-vaccination or anti-vaxxer.

It seems to me that the AV movement has been changing into something different. Something more disturbing than it was, and it has always been disturbing.

The AV movement has existed since the very first vaccine was introduced by Edward Jenner in 1796. It’s been with us since the beginning. It’s always been a conspiracy theory that “they” (insert a “they” of your choice) want to do bad things (think microchip) to you for murky reasons.

The modern AV movement, pre-COVID-19, was opposed to some or all vaccines because… well, just because. Their reasoning and motives aren’t relevant to this discussion. One of the strongest drivers of the AV movement was actually the remarkable success of vaccines. Deadly childhood diseases have been mostly eliminated in the western world. Smallpox completely eliminated. Polio nearly eliminated. Most of the childhood diseases that I lived through are now quite rare.

In the face of diseases that no one sees anymore it’s easy, and often attractive, to argue that even the minuscule risk of a vaccine is unwarranted. For their children. Everyone wants what’s best for their children. Scare stories about vaccines causing autism (they don’t) sound a great deal riskier than diseases they’ve never seen.

The AV movement was really about denying that children were at risk from disease and somehow protecting them from vaccines. And the AV movement has had some success. By decreasing the vaccination rate they managed to bring back measles. I don’t know if they are proud of that success or not. Many AVers I’ve talked to seem to love the idea of kids catching diseases so that they can get “natural immunity”. So maybe they are proud of bringing back measles. It’s hard to say.

While there are a few adult vaccines around, the AV movement has been mostly about children. The AVers themselves were fine. Other than avoiding a flu vaccine and maybe shingles they weren’t arguing on their own behalf. Their argument was always about protecting children from diseases that vaccination had rendered rare. Lives were on the line, but not that many lives, and not the AVers themselves. Usually just the kids.

The AV movement that has developed since the introduction of the various COVID-19 vaccines seems to me to be a completely different animal.

Here’s how it’s different

  • It’s not about the kids (yet).
    So far COVID-19 has not been attacking children, though new variants may change that. Vaccines for children are not yet approved so there’s no question of vaccinating children at this time.
  • It’s allied with an extreme right wing political ideology.
    If you call Trumpism an ideology.
  • The disease in question is not rare.
    In Australia it’s still rare, but if AVers and anti-maskers have their way it will soon be as common as it is in much of the world.

The AVers are paying a price for their beliefs

In the US, where both COVID-19 and vaccines are common, people who are being hospitalised and dying are almost all un-vaccinated.

More than 99 percent of the nearly 10,000 U.S. COVID-19 deaths that occurred in June were among unvaccinated people, according to Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Unvaccinated people, probably including actively AV people, are getting horribly sick and are dying. This is something new. AVers are no longer safely hiding behind their children. They are in the front lines. The AV movement is becoming a suicide cult. This is worthy of a Darwin Award on a huge scale.

In the USA COVID-19 is already being referred to as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”. Since the vaccines work as advertised, only the unvaccinated are suffering and dying. The coming of the Delta variant has meant that more young people are getting sick. Variants to follow sound like they could be worse than Delta.

Until enough of us are vaccinated COVID-19 is going to keep getting in the way of living our lives. But that’s not likely to happen. The committed AVers and the political AVers are determined to keep COVID-19 circulating in our world. Most of us will get vaccinated and we’ll be Ok, but people we care about who’ve drunk the AV Kool-Aid are likely to suffer greatly for their beliefs. And they’ll share that suffering with other vulnerable people who for one reason or another cannot be vaccinated. The outlook is not good.

At the top of this article is a picture of me in a T-shirt I bought a few years ago. Until this year I didn’t wear it because someone said it might be offensive to a few of our friends. Now I can’t imagine why that would matter.

If you’re on the fence about getting vaccinated, just do it. My cousin in America died of COVID-19. It’s a horrible death. Protect yourself and by protecting yourself you will be protecting your family, friends and your community. It really is the right thing to do.

12 Comments

  1. Thank you for this Eve. Too many people are going down the anti-vax rabbit hole, and we’ll all suffer from their vaccine refusal.

    Reply
    • And thank you, Melissa. This is one time where we all have to pull together for all our sakes.
      Kindly,
      Eve

      Reply
  2. Eve, you’re a champion! You’ve explained it so well. I’m going to pass it around.
    Thanks for doing it.
    Paola

    Reply
    • Hi Paola,
      Nice to see that we are barracking for all of us–our community.
      Kindly,
      Eve

      Reply
  3. I am vaccinated, so I am not AV, but I did have some hesitancy because of the speed of developing the vaccines and the limited testing time – obviously because this is a pandemic. But most vaccines take a lot longer to come onto the market. I wonder if a lot of AVs are actually ‘hesitants’ because of this.

    Reply
    • Hi Jan,
      Concern about the speed of development is reasonable. The science behind the the mRNA vaccines was in the works for over 20 years. The resources devoted to the development of the current crop of vaccines has been vastly more than previous vaccines, for obvious reasons. And the clinical trials were very large and well run. This has been an emergency. The results are pretty clear by now with over 3.7 billion doses of the various vaccines already in people’s arms around the world. The vaccines aren’t perfect – no vaccine ever is – but the vaccinated portion of the world’s population seems to be doing just fine.

      Reply
      • I’m still working in the ER and we are, indeed, seeing Covid patients. So far, they are unvaccinated. Your article is spot on.

        Reply
  4. HI eve,
    I am not antivax, but am anti this current vaccine (arguably not a vaccine, a toxic substance), also believe the lockdown is a hoax, very worrying things in the world, people need to read and think, beyond the usual media porridge and one sided opinions we see each night. Dr Fauci is not at all what he seems, so much damning information about what he is up to…but anyway, each to her own opinion.
    i wonder what you think of the media beat up of “90 year old woman dying, 70 year old man dying”..from covid..really? or did they die of underlying disease?…perhaps the 90 year old woman died of old age…we should all be so lucky as to get to 90. I wonder if you will publish my opinion? kind regards, Kristine

    Reply
    • Hi Kristine,
      Your opinions are fine here. I’m quite certain that they are not supported by science or evidence, but they are your opinions. I wish the best for you. The way things look now most unvaccinated people will catch COVID eventually. Many will get very sick and some will die. I do not wish that for you and therefore I wish you’d change your mind. My experience is that few people who believe what you believe ever change their minds so I’m not expecting you to. There are many recorded cases of people dying of COVID-19 who insist to their last breath that the pandemic is not real. Since you are counting on good luck I hope you have it. https://globalnews.ca/news/7467283/coronavirus-denier-deaths-nurse-hoax/.

      Reply
      • Daniel thank you for publishing my response and for your reply, we have too many points of disagreement , I might just say I am certainly not relying on luck, do believe this is a pandemic, and am looking after my health, I am surprised you are not aware of the many options available other than the vaccine, so I will leave it at that and save my energies for other conversations …
        But thank you again for publishing my response
        All the best
        Kristine

        Reply
  5. Thank you Eve, loved your words. It’s a no brainer & a decision to get vaccinated is easy for me & my family after seeing the pain & suffering across the world & now in Australia.
    Please everyone help stop this raging virus with the science & knowledge we have at hand.

    Reply
  6. Perfectly said. Both of you.
    You make my heart sing Daniel with your views on C-19 vax for the common good.

    And this line just nailed it! “Now I can’t imagine why that would matter”. It made me guffaw.

    Reply

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