The modern anti-vaccination movement in America has often been associated with a stereotype of left-wing, coastal, white, wealthy moms — those “crunchy granola” types. In recent years, outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, spurred by low vaccination rates in children, emerged in wealthy, liberal places like Marin County, California, and Boulder, Colorado. But while the public narrative focused on these left-wing enclaves, they were far from the only regions affected by outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease: Conservative communities of Orthodox Jews, some of whom also reject vaccines, have also seen spikes in cases, for example.
And polls over the past two decades have consistently found Republicans are just as likely as Democrats to hold vaccine-hesitant views. So while the right-wing resistance to the COVID-19 vaccines may feel like an about-face for who is anti-vax in America, both sides of the political divide were always there — but now one side’s fringe views have slipped into its mainstream.
“Vaccine refusal has always been a place where left meets right,” said Jennifer Reich, a sociology professor at the University of Colorado and the author of “Calling the Shots: Why Parents Reject Vaccines.”