Anti-Vaxxers in the Family

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Anti-Vaxxers in the Family

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I have a minimum of 2 resolute anti-vaxxers in my extended family. We try to avoid conflict but sometimes their ignorance is just too much for me to bear and I feel like I have to set the record straight. Here's a summary of what's going on in these screenshots from a FB post.

1. Great aunt posts a meme using the experience of the Polio vaccine to promote the COVID vaccine. (meme included)
2. Anti-vax aunt (orange) posts snarkily that in the case of the polio vaccine, it was only rolled out after 60 years of research.
3. I step in (as a historian of public health) and comment that she's mistaken, the polio vaccine went from lab to roll out in 25 years. While mRNA (on which the COVID vax is based) was first discovered in a lab 35 years ago so it stands to reason that the amount of time between lab and roll out is similar.
4. Meanwhile... anti-vax second cousin (purple- daughter of great aunt who made the original post and also resolutely anti-vax) tags anti-vax aunt (orange) and says "amen." as in... she lends her support
5. Anti-vax aunt (orange) responds to my initial rebuff in #3 and says "wrong. it took 35 years to discover it was a virus" (as if that, added to the 25 years of development constitutes 60 years of "research"
6. I step back in and repeat... polio vaccine research began in 1930, and it rolled out in the US in 1954. Surely she doesn't want to go back to the "good old days" when it took 30 years to discover whether something was a virus, really...??
7. I was wrong. Anti-vax aunt (orangs) DOES want that. She says, "Yes, really"
8. pro-vax cousin (light blue-an oncology NP) comments "Wow. That's sad to think about"
9. Anti-vax aunt (orange): ?
10. pro-vax cousin (light blue): is we were not able to identify viruses like we can today. It's sad to think about all of the people that would die unnecessarily.

This exchange went on but I just don't have it in me to continue with screenshots.

Great aunt (original poster) chimes in and says she doesn't care what people's beliefs are but both of her daughters (one of them the anti-vaxxer in purple) families have COVID right now and she's in her 70s and was exposed to both and never caught it. She firmly believes it's because the vaccine works.
Anti-vax aunt claimed she "didn't post a belief, she posted a fact"
I said "no. you posted an incorrect fact that was skewed to make it look like the polio vaccine underwent 35 more years of research than it actually did and I corrected you."

It's amazing to me that technology that has been in development for 35 years (mRNA) is seen with such suspicion because the virus it's being used with COVID-19 is new. So the assumption is that the vaccine is "untested" even though the technology behind it has a robust research history. I'm even more amazed by people who are anti-covid vaccine even though they had their full slew of childhood vaccines on schedule. I have two very close family members who refused to get vaccinated (different family members than the two distant family featured above) and they had all of their childhood vaccines. One of them even told me she fully expected that everyone who was vaccinated with the COVID vaccine will die in a few years or even "sprout dicks" for all she knows.... yes...

It's imperative that we, as a society, figure out how to address misinformation and disinformation. Certainly, facts/statistics/"Research" are open to interpretation to a degree but much anti-vax info out there is politically motivated. It's not coming from scientists who spend their whole lives studying this stuff.... it's coming from PACs and anti-establishment groups who have beef with the US government and/or "Big Pharma" or Western medicine.

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This item was submitted on November 13, 2021 by Marissa C. Rhodes using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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