'Anti-Vaxx' Movement Shifts Focus to Civil Liberties

October 7, 2020

U.S. News & World Report

Facebook chatter from the anti-vaccination movement now frames the issue as one of civil liberties, a new study finds.

As a COVID-19 vaccine gets closer to becoming a reality, opposition from so-called anti-vaxxer groups could become a political movement, researchers warn.

For the study, the investigators looked at more than 250,000 posts on 204 Facebook pages opposing vaccines between October 2009 and October 2019.

Opposition has traditionally centered on medical safety and government conspiracy theories. But vaccine opponents have recast their objections, saying it is a civil right to refuse vaccination.

Study co-author David Broniatowski explained that "framing vaccine refusal as a civil right allows vaccine opponents to sidestep the science, and instead debate about values -- especially, the value of freedom of choice. However, this is a case where one person's exercise of that freedom can hurt everyone else."

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