Americans are growing more skeptical about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines — and politicians from left and right are echoing these fears in their campaigns to win the White House.
Polling this week shows that, while most voters trust jabs for Covid-19, MMR and other bugs, millions more have changed their minds in recent months and no longer see them as safe.
The surveys come as health chiefs warn of rampant online misinformation linking jabs with death and autism, and that ivermectin, an antiparasitic drug typically used on animals, can treat Covid-19.
Despite these warnings and their implications for public health, two politicians are building vaccine skepticism into their 2024 campaign platforms — Robert F. Kennedy Jr, an independent, and Ron DeSantis, Florida‘s Republican Governor.
Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, which released polling on vaccines this week, described ominous ‘warning signs’ about rising rates of skepticism.
‘Growing numbers now distrust health-protecting, life-saving vaccines,’ said Jamieson.
Her poll of more than 1,500 adults found that the share of Americans who see Covid-19 vaccines as unsafe has jumped from 18 percent in August last year to 24 percent last month.
Meanwhile, the share of people who linked autism in children to the growing use of vaccines has risen from 10 percent in April 2021 to 16 percent last month.
Likewise, the share of adults who support using ivermectin to treat or prevent Covid-19, has jumped from 10 percent in September 2021 to 26 percent last month.
Using ivermectin against coronavirus runs counter to the advice of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
A separate poll of 1,110 US adults by Rasmussen Reports delivered even more startling results.
Uptake of the latest, updated Covid-19 shots has been slow, since they became available in mid-September
Nearly a quarter of respondents — 24 percent — said they knew someone personally who died from side effects of a Covid-19 jab.
Though there have been cases of heart problems and thrombosis from coronavirus jabs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says serious adverse reactions are ‘rare.’
Studies show the shots prevented millions of deaths and hospitalizations in the US.
More than 1.1 million Americans have died from Covid-19 since the pandemic began, with the unvaccinated perishing at much higher rates.
Uptake of the latest, updated Covid-19 shots has been slow, since they became available in mid-September.
According to Rasmussen, millions of Americans also say they would be keen to join a class-action lawsuit against Pfizer, BioNTech, Moderna, and other manufacturers over the side effects of jabs.
Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr said in a podcast: ‘There’s no vaccine that is safe and effective’
Fully 42 percent of respondents said they would probably join such a legal effort, including 24 percent who said they would very likely do so.
There are also signs that rising skepticism of vaccines is feeding into next year’s race for the White House.
Kennedy, who recently dropped out of the race for the Democratic Party’s nomination to run as an independent, has long campaigned against vaccines, among other offbeat theories.
Earlier this year, he said in a podcast that ‘there’s no vaccine that is safe and effective,’ and told FOX News that shots can cause autism.
DeSantis, who is championed for his early reopening of schools and businesses from Florida’s pandemic-era lockdowns, appears to be embracing vaccine hesitancy to win votes.
The DeSantis administration last month urged Floridians under the age of 65 from against getting the updated Covid-19 shots — counter to the advice from federal agencies.
Florida Gov Ron DeSantis, seen here wearing cowboy boots, has started second-guessing the effectiveness of vaccines
This week, he appeared at a ‘medical freedom’ town hall in Manchester, New Hampshire, an early-voting state in next year’s primary contest, and downplayed the effectiveness of shots.
The Governor said Covid-19 vaccines had been rolled out without proper studies and that federal officials were wrong about their risks and benefits.
‘We know the federal government muffed this in many different ways, and we need a reckoning,’ DeSantis told the crowd.
Though DeSantis had more than 30 percent of support among Republican voters for the party’s nomination at the start of 2023, he now barely gets 13 percent, according to an average of polls.
That’s well behind the front-runner, former president Donald Trump.