The nonprofit Immunize Nevada, a coalition that educates people on vaccinations, says it has had to cancel two events in December. Lack of interest? Lack of need? No and no. According to executive director Heidi Parker, who spoke to the Reno Gazette-Journal, the issue is cyberharassment from anti-vaxxers. Parker said that the harassment hasn’t taken just an emotional toll, but an economic one as well; she said the organization likely lost a couple of thousand dollars in money already sunk into the canceled end-of-year celebrations.
According to Parker, anti-vaxxers took to Yelp and Facebook to leave negative comments about the restaurants that were hosting the events. Yelp and Facebook did remove the comments, but negative reviews can have a lasting impact on a business, so this is no small deal. The events were canceled because people feared threats at real-life events. Because none of the reviews included personal threats, the organization didn’t file a police report.
The events, which were scheduled for Dec. 6 in Reno and Dec. 13 in Las Vegas, reportedly already had vendors and food lined up. “We typically get about 200 attendees at these celebration events at each location,” Parker said, adding that that these events were scheduled with small, local vendors.
In the end, the organization did an online event instead, raising $14,726 in the virtual event on Dec. 13.
As Daily Kos previously covered, religious, personal, or philosophical exemptions from vaccination for children attending public schools are common in most states and Washington, D.C., but are slowly being challenged. For example, New York recently ended religious exemptions for school vaccines. Maine has voted to do the same. Previously, California, Mississippi, and West Virginia already had no exemptions for students attending public schools. That’s a foundation, but a concerningly small one.
Given that we have elected officials who compare vaccines to “sorcery,” it’s not shocking that the anti-vaccination movement is alive and well. Remember: Numerous studies confirm that vaccines have no link to autism, though even if it did, that fear is rooted in ableism. While anti-vaxxers might encourage you to throw a measles party, remember that, worldwide, outbreaks of diseases such as measles can be deadly. Declining vaccination rates have a measurable impact on society—and not a good one.