Myths around infertility, pregnancy and miscarriages have run rampant in anti-vaccine circles for years — and in the universe of their conspiracy theories, vaccines are often to blame. While variations of such false claims have been part of misinformation campaigns around the COVID-19 vaccines, there has recently been a shift from demonizing the vaccine itself to villainizing those who are vaccinated.
It's a peculiar repositioning for the anti-vaccination conspiracy movement — and as the false claim evolves into more extreme iterations, it has caught the attention of people who study and advocate against vaccine misinformation.
"I think it is particularly interesting that people are saying that those who are vaccinated are a risk to those who aren't," said David Broniatowski, who's the associate director for the Institute for Data, Democracy & Politics at George Washington University. "It's like taking the common vaccine conventional wisdom and flipping it on its head where people will say, 'if you have not been vaccinated, you're a risk to those who are more vulnerable and vaccinated.'"