Monday, January 19, 2015

Anti-Vaccine Movement as Class Conflict

A small measles outbreak at Disneyland (for more information, turn to this reporting) could reinject (or provide the first injection of) real talk into the anti-vaccine movement currently sweeping the nation. Maybe. Maybe it changes nothing. What's true is that the movement is racist and classist. Truth.

Two groups of people fail to fully vaccinate their children. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the first type have kids that are more likely "to be white, to belong to households with higher income, to have a married mother with a college education, and to live with four or more other children." Suburban housewives? A nice portion of the equation. They also cluster, and probably hate science ($5 says if you know an anti-vaccer, they either don't believe in evolution, or know GMO corn causes cancer. Or both). Why should we care? Aside from the child endangerment they're wantonly engaging in, there's a second group of people who don't vaccinate: poor, predominantly minority families.

Aside from Michelle Bachmanns' crazy ramblings (does she have any other kind?), I was largely unaware that there was actually an anti-vaccination movement. Then this winter I started following IMGUR, and noticed a lot of posts seeking to disprove fallacies pushed by this anti-vaccination agenda. So I started looking into it, discovered these enclaves of anti-vaccer mothers in hippie dippie enclaves like Boulder, Portland, and Seattle, and became frightened. And frustrated. Low-income families have traditionally had issues with proper vaccination. There are a list of problems: low information, cost, transportation access, and a lower likelihood to follow up for a missed appointment due to additional life burdens not found in the cul-de-sacs of Boulder.

When someone brings measles onto a playground, two kids are going to get sick. One has anti-vaccer parents screaming, "bring it on!" Then they take their kid to a well-financed hospital and receive appropriate medical care in a sterile environment. The other kid has access to shit medical care, lives in an unhygienic and overcrowded community, and suffers greater harm. Generally speaking, rich people not vaccinating their kids doesn't put other rich kids at risk. Just the poor ones. Class conflict.

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