The anti-vax movement's new frontier

These parents are not uneducated, Froehlke told me. Some of them are literally rocket scientists at the nearby Lockheed Martin facility. What has happened, he suspects, is that rampant misinformation related to the Covid-19 vaccines, and the fact that pundits like Tucker Carlson on Fox News have devoted a lot of time to bashing them — among other untruths, he has suggested that the vaccines make people more likely to contract Covid-19, not less — has begun to taint some people’s view of long-established vaccines. “I think we’re going to see more of this, more spillover of persons who had previously vaccinated their children and who are now not going to vaccinate,” he says.

Such doubt has been accompanied by, and may have been augmented by, an erosion of confidence in medical expertise generally. “We used to be able to persuade more, with our background and training,” he says. Parents trusted his advice because he was a doctor. Now, when he cites the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other official guidelines, skeptical parents sometimes accuse him of being a shill — of having been lied to and taken in by some vast conspiracy. “It’s very concerning, this lack of trust,” he says.

Southern California; Savannah, Ga.; rural Alabama; Houston — pediatricians in all these places told me about similar experiences with parents pushing back against routine vaccines.

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