How Did the Republican Vaccine Opposition Get To This Point?

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After Sherri Tenpenny, a doctor from the Cleveland area, falsely suggested at a hearing in the Ohio House of Representatives last month that Covid vaccines “magnetize” people and could “interface” with 5G cellular towers. Republican lawmakers thank for the phrase “enlightening”.

Republicans in Congress who once praised the Trump administration for its work in facilitating the rapid development of vaccines now fee campaigns Vaccine misinformation sows doubts from the Capitol about safety and efficacy.

And this week, Republican state lawmakers in Tennessee successfully pressured health officials to stop all vaccines from reaching children. Guide prohibits sending reminders to single-vaccinated adolescents about the second dose of Covid vaccine and communicating about routine immunizations, such as the flu shot.

Conservative news bulletins have sparked a wave of opposition to Covid vaccines within the Republican Party. a diet of constant misinformation about vaccines and some GOP lawmakers are inviting anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists to testify in state houses and Congress. With little resistance from party leaders, these Republican efforts have brought vaccine misconceptions and doubts from the fringes of American life to the center of our political conversation.

This is a pattern seen throughout the Trump administration: many Republican extremists tolerate misinformation, rather than scolding conspiratorial thinking and wrongdoing as they begin to spread among their party base.

Some conservatives are spreading lies as a way to rally their political base by embracing the ideas. widespread voter fraud, like a stolen election and revisionist history about the deadly siege on the Capitol. Many say little, preferring to avoid questions from the news media.

Those who speak out are reluctant to specifically name colleagues who give voice to misinformation, or to address media figures like Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.

“As far as I know, we don’t control conservative media figures—at least I don’t,” said Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney. told The New York Times recently. “However, I think it’s a huge mistake for someone to suggest that we shouldn’t get the vaccine.”

Vaccination opposition is not new to Republican voters. During the 2016 Republican presidential primary race, A number of candidates, including Donald J. Trumphas repeatedly debunked theories that vaccines cause autism in children. At that time, Republican state legislators began to defy the law This will tighten vaccination requirements for children.

But in the past few months, change within the party has accelerated as some supporters of Mr. Trump have embraced the belief that the national effort to popularize Covid vaccines is a sign of a harmful, unconstitutional, and perhaps even nefarious government plan.

“Think about what these mechanisms might be used for,” said North Carolina Representative Madison Cawthorn of the Biden administration’s plan to go. door to door to reach millions of unvaccinated Americans, continues Allegation without proof: “They may go door to door to get your weapons. They can go door to door to get your bibles.”

In a report this month, the Kaiser Family Foundation found A growing vaccine divide between Republican and Democratic districts is that about 47 percent of people in counties won by President Biden are fully vaccinated, compared to 35 percent of people in Trump counties. In a recent Washington Post-ABC News pollCompared with just 6 percent of Democrats, 47 percent of Republicans said they were not likely to be vaccinated.

as cases of covid rise across the countryNearly all recent hospitalizations and deaths occurred among unvaccinated people, White House officials announced. While the national outlook remains much better than previous increases, surgeon general Vivek Murthy this week first advice He warned the Biden administration of the “immediate threat” of health misinformation.

There is a tendency among Republican leaders to quietly – and sometimes not so quietly – attribute support for absurd beliefs and figures to Mr. But when it comes to vaccines, it’s hard to blame the former president.

Mr. Trump eagerly took credit for the accelerated development of vaccines and urged Americans to get vaccinated. (However, it did silently receive a vaccine in private before he leaves office rather than holding a public event that might encourage his supporters to follow his lead.) In an interview with Fox News last monthThe former president expressed some concerns about vaccinating “very young people”, but said he remains “a big believer in what we’re doing with vaccines.”

“What we’re doing is incredible,” he said. “You see results.”

Other Republicans are less adamant in repeating Mr Trump’s message on vaccines. Last year, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson praised Trump. “bright” Operation Warp Rate. Made a series this year dubious claims about vaccine-related side effects and deaths.

In March, Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene praised Mr Trump. to save a life with vaccines. This month, Americansjust say noHe used Nazi-era footage to criticize the Biden administration’s efforts to reach unvaccinated people.

“People have a choice, they don’t need your medical brown shirts to order vaccines at their door,” he tweeted. “You can’t force people to be part of the human experience.”

Less than a week later, Republican minority leader Senator Mitch McConnell from Kentucky urged Americans to get vaccinated, citing his experience as a childhood polio survivor.

“We have not one, but two, but three highly effective vaccines, so I was surprised by the difficulty of getting the job done,” he said.

Yet when asked by a reporter whether part of the challenge stemmed from the words of members of his own party, Mr. McConnell objected.

“I already answered the question about how I feel about it,” he said. “I can only speak for myself, and I spoke a few minutes ago.”

We want to hear from our readers. Have a question? We will try to answer. Do you have a comment? We are all ears. Email us onpolitics@nytimes.com or message me on Twitter @llerer.


This is roughly the amount of money American bank accounts were deposited this week for nearly 60 million children who qualify for the extended monthly child tax credit.

“I’m a bit of an emotional guy, don’t get me wrong,” Roland Mesnier, a former White House pastry chef, said in a recent interview. “They were my babies.”

Great Junk Purification sweeps America.


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