The rise of anti-anti-vax politics

For all of the attention that has been paid to the growing political cleavage between the jabbed and the jabless, getting vaccinated is extremely popular in countries where vaccines are widely available. Countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Spain, and Canada have vaccination rates as high as 94 percent, 81 percent, and 79 percent, respectively, without blanket vaccine mandates. To put this popularity into perspective: More Britons have gotten vaccinated (47 million) than watched the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy (31 million). In the United States, being vaccinated is more common than drinking coffee, owning a television, or even watching the Super Bowl.

It stands to reason, then, that politicians would seek to use this popular issue to their political advantage. This is particularly true in the French context, where it is estimated that only 5 million people over the age of 12 have yet to receive a single dose. By recently passing new rules restricting those without proof of vaccination from accessing restaurants, transport, and other public venues, the French government is clearly trying to encourage the country’s remaining holdouts to get the jab. As Macron colorfully put it, his government wants to make being unvaccinated so inconvenient that it “piss[es] them off.” Until recently, unimmunized French people could still access public spaces so long as they could provide proof of a negative COVID test, which I previously described as the “carrot” approach to promoting vaccination. By shifting to a more punitive model, Macron seems to be kicking off his as-yet-undeclared presidential campaign with a pledge to stick it to the unvaccinated.