Doom: Less than half of Republicans now support childhood vaccine mandates
You don’t say.
The charitable read on this new YouGov poll is that it’s just a proxy for sentiment about the COVID vaccine, especially for kids. There’s a reasonable argument that children don’t need to be immunized against a disease that seldom causes them problems. (There are also rational arguments that they should be anyway.) The calculus is different for something like measles. Not everyone who opposes forcing parents to vaccinate their kids against COVID opposes forcing them to vaccinate their kids against all diseases.
But more do than you may think.
The charitable read doesn’t work in this case because YouGov also explicitly asked about mandating the COVID vaccine for students as a condition of attending school. Democrats split 79/9 in favor of that while Republicans split 25/63 against. Then the pollster asked a far broader question, “Do you think parents should be required to have their children vaccinated against infectious diseases?”
Republicans still showed plurality support for childhood vaccine mandates, splitting 46/35. But Trump voters were underwater at 40/42. (Blacks and Latinos each showed 60 percent support, by comparison.) MAGA is now opposed on balance to all vaccine requirements for kids if YouGov’s data is accurate.
And who can blame them in light of the arguments Republican leaders have deployed against COVID vaccine mandates? I wrote about that last month after Chris Wallace put Pete Ricketts, the governor of Nebraska, on the spot about double standards:
There are two ways you can handle a question like that if you’re anti-mandate. One is to do what Ricketts did by explaining what makes the COVID vaccine different. It’s new, we don’t know what long-term effects it might have, and it targets a disease that children typically shake off without difficulty. As I say, measles is different. But most Republican officials don’t bother drawing those lines. When Ron DeSantis denounces vaccine mandates, for instance, he tends to do it in the language of liberty and fairness, highlighting the cruelty of taking away someone’s job if they haven’t had their shots.
That’s a sweeping argument. Once this becomes a debate over freedom and bodily autonomy instead of a debate over the particular costs and benefits of the COVID vaccine, it’s logical for people to extend the anti-mandate logic to all vaccines. If, as a matter of natural right, the state shouldn’t have the power to pressure me into putting some drug into my body, what does it matter if the drug in question has to do with COVID or with measles or whooping cough? The principle is the same.
The “freedom and autonomy” argument against mandates is more rousing and in line with broader libertarian tendencies within the GOP (the pre-Trump GOP, at least), which is probably why ambitious pols like DeSantis prefer it to a dry dispute over a specific vaccine’s merits and disadvantages. But it’s poisoning Republican attitudes towards basic public health measures to prevent infectious disease, and kids will pay the price if it becomes party orthodoxy. Which it probably will, given the electoral incentive to pander to populists when running in a GOP primary. “Fewer than half of Republicans (47%) describe vaccines in general as ‘very safe,’ 25 points lower than the share of Democrats who describe them that way,” YouGov found in another result today. If this isn’t a party litmus test yet, give it another three years.
Aaron Blake is right that other cultural currents are influencing Republican opinion here. School policy and parents’ right to exploit it have become an animating issue in the Virginia gubernatorial election. Partly that’s due to concerns over the curriculum being radicalized to teach woke ideologies like Critical Race Theory. Still, much of it is a backlash to pandemic policies requiring kids to mask and, soon, to get vaccinated. The more resentment over forcing kids to follow rules that don’t make sense despite their parent’s objections, the greater the risk that that resentment will bleed over into opinions about laws that make sense, like vaccine mandates for measles and other dangerous diseases.
Since everything else in modern American politics becomes ruthlessly polarized by the party in time, we should expect it to happen with this issue, which will push Republicans further towards a hardline anti-vax position. At least one red-state legislature has already flirted with the idea of banning vaccine mandates, and not just for COVID. Scott Gottlieb is so worried about partisan polarization being driven by Biden’s federal vaccine mandate that he’s come to oppose it even though he supports mass vaccination emphatically. I’ll leave you with that clip from October 3. This decedent country is in a dark place when one party saying “vaccines are good and children should get them” leads the other inexorably towards taking the contrary position, just because.
Cross-posted from Hot Air
Notes from the Editor
In the interview with Chris Wallace, he asked how Polo and other childhood vaccines were different from COVID. I thought about this while working on the article and had to ask, “When you got the Polo vaccine, or any of the other ones, were you at any time worried about getting the disease from someone that was not vaccinated? We got these vaccines to rid ourselves of the possibility of catching the disease, but with COVID, that is not what we are being told.
I had COVID last year; I got the vaccines, so did my sister, brother, and wife, yet we all caught COVID when it came around again. Last year, my wife had covid and did not get the vaccine but said she had natural immunity; I told her to get the vaccine, but she refused. When my child and I came down with COVID, I told her it was best to be isolated. She said we were sick; she already had it, so she refused. A week later, she came down with symptoms, that was on Thursday, on Friday I had her get tested, she was having difficulty breathing on Sunday, so we had the ambulance bring her into the hospital, by Tuesday, she lost the battle was gone.
I look at what happened; I thought vaccines gave you immunization against disease, that is what they have been said to do to this date, it is the way with diphtheria, smallpox, polio, and others, so is what we received a vaccine or not? And if it is, why aren’t we protected?
At this point, this whole thing is so politicized. If you dare question, you can face being banned from Big Tech platforms; they demand 100% compliance with their goals or silence you. That is not how science is done; you question all; the data will back it up if your question is valid. If the other side is, data will support them; that is how we have done this until political correctness came along. Science became about feelings, not facts.
I don’t have the answers, but the beauty of today is I can access the data; at this point, I see that deaths from COVID are less than from influenza for people under 18, yet we aren’t isolating for this, so why are we doing this to our children?
As we have stated before, “If you need to have your computer fixed, would you call a plumber?” I am a political journalist; I write on politics and the Middle East conflict, specifically the Israeli/Palestinian one. I have no medical training, so my ability to give any advice on COVID is severely limited, but it does not mean I can’t research and find out what is factual and not.