Who are the anti-vaxxers redux

So, I was reading this Slate article on why vaccines should be absolutely mandatory (I wholeheartedly agree)…

There is simply no reason vaccinations should be treated differently than any other form of medical care, and they must be protected within the same framework that has been created for child protection and against medical neglect. There are many ethically gray areas of medicine, but this is not one. Our laws must unambiguously and without loopholes reflect this, and there cannot be conflicting standards of child protection based on race, wealth, and education. By continuing to allow exceptions, we are fueling the misconception that vaccinations are an option, a choice, a subjective topic about which people can have different opinions that ought to be respected, when in fact all of the data proves they are not. Enacting a policy that is consistent with the science would provide clarity for the parents—the majority of whom are loving caretakers trying to do the right thing. We are failing our society by creating unequal standards of parenting, and worse, we are failing our children by not protecting their right to be vaccinated against deadly, preventable diseases. Competent parenting must include fully immunizing all children according to the medical standard of care.

Yes.  But this part really struck me:

Those who refuse vaccines represent a privileged segment of society, making it easier for us to turn a blind eye as part of the systemic racism and classism still deeply embedded in modern medicine. [emphasis mine] We have spent hours explaining to CPS case-workers that it is impossible for the homeless parents of a critically ill infant to simultaneously attend medical rounds, to participate in medical decision-making for their child, and apply for public housing and employment. Then we turn around and treat a purposefully un-immunized child for a serious brain infection caused by vaccine-preventable bacterium—requiring weeks of hospitalization with intravenous antibiotics—and watch his mother continue to refuse vaccines for him or his siblings, and we can’t do anything about it.

Okay, I’m not aware of data as to those who specifically refuse to vaccinate, but when it comes to public  opinion on the matter, there’s really no evidence to suggest its the most “privileged segment of society.”  Actually, much like with politics and vaccines, the striking thing is how small the demographic differences are (from Pew)



Childhood Vaccines

Views on Childhood Vaccines by Education, Knowledge and Income

No gender difference.  No Black/White racial difference.  Hardly any education difference.  No meaningful income difference.  The big difference?  Age.  Those damn Millennials (okay, and somewhat my Generation X).  They are the ones both breeding and looking to ruin this for everybody.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

5 Responses to Who are the anti-vaxxers redux

  1. R. Jenrette says:

    I agree they should be mandatory by law. But with that law must go financial and medical aid for those few children who are injured by the vaccine.

  2. ohwilleke says:

    Given that subsample sizes are smaller than the total sample, I suspect that all of the results other than age aren’t statistically significant.

  3. ohwilleke says:

    Also worth noting that the phrasing of the question is about who gets to make the decision, not what the decision should be. This decision is made pretty much exclusively by the parents of young children, and people who have or are about to have young children are overwhelmingly Millennials with a smattering of younger Gen X. It is natural that people disfavor having their own liberty restricted regardless of their views on the merits, compared to people who have no personal stake in the law because the decision has already been made for their own children.

    Revealed preferences in terms of who opts out of vaccination may be a more reliable indicator than survey responses which largely capture a population for which the question is not salient and people who are talking about their own liberty rather than the merits, as a result. I suspect that the revealed preference data would differ greatly from the survey data.

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