The Myth That Students Who Aren’t Vaccinated Are Spreading While Anti-Vaxxers Exist

Researchers are getting closer to understanding how fears about vaccinations spread across generations. But that hasn’t stopped anti-vaxxers from proclaiming a myth that makes real vaccines harder to obtain: the myth that someone who has measles, mumps, or rubella is infecting another person.

But who is it who spreads this myth? One theory suggests that the thinking, espoused for decades by the anti-vaxxer group Generation Rescue, is being instilled even more deeply within the ranks of the most anti-vaxxers now that the federal government is changing the way public health professionals approach vaccines.

Within Generation Rescue’s website, for example, there is a link entitled “Get Vaccinated,” which instructs the user to “show your first name, your first initial, and your last name (if any)” for his or her friends. The premise, among other claims, is that adding additional “patient” identifiers on social media websites like Facebook and Instagram will help individuals who are not yet vaccinated. Doctors have rebuked this notion, saying that sharing this information online implies that many people are uninformed about vaccines. According to a 2017 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, the ideological reasoning of Generation Rescue and other anti-vaxxers does raise important questions, namely why people who have grown up so long believing that vaccines are dangerous are making vaccinations more difficult for their fellow Americans to acquire.

From what we know now, we can speculate that not only are anti-vaxxers increasingly frustrated with federal health agencies that they blame for what they see as declining rates of immunization, but that they are also becoming increasingly skeptical about the efficacy of vaccines themselves.

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