Fox News has hosted a parade of discredited anti-vaxxers. At both the state and local level, Republican lawmakers have invited conspiracy theorists to testify before their committees, amplifying their messages. Even Mitch McConnell, who to his credit has personally encouraged constituents to get their Covid shots, has refused to publicly condemn the misinformation rampant in conservative media or speak out against his fellow Republican lawmakers, like Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green, who encouraged Americans to “Just say no” to the vaccine.
The conservative movement hasn’t just adopted pro-choice rhetoric when it comes to vaccines. It’s gone further, encouraging people to make the choice that is clearly harmful to society at large. It’s debatable whether those who remain unvaccinated because of misinformation are to blame for trusting the wrong sources. But it’s undeniable that the right-wing media and lawmakers peddling misinformation are acting recklessly – and that the entire country is worse off as a result.
Republican politicians are also using the tools of government to undermine accountability, or even transparency, when it comes to vaccinations. Texas passed legislation forbidding businesses in the state from requiring proof of vaccination. Montana prohibited employers, including medical facilities, from requiring vaccination as a condition of employment. Under pressure from Republican legislators, Tennessee’s health department suspended outreach to children about not just the Covid vaccine but all childhood vaccinations.