More parents are debating whether young children need to receive routine vaccinations. Even for vaccines with a lengthy history of safety, adults are skipping injections. The movement coincides with an upsurge in false and misleading information about COVID-19 and the immunizations that reduced pandemic deaths.
The politicization of the COVID-19 shots has strengthened the anti-vaccination movement, which has led to a drop in the use of normal vaccinations against diseases like measles, polio, and other serious illnesses.
In the U.S., the proportion of kindergarteners who had the necessary immunizations decreased by one percentage point to 94% in the 2020-2021 school year, which equates to around 35,000 unvaccinated children.
Particularly at the height of the pandemic, certain states experienced dramatic changes: in Texas, immunization rates for five-month-olds fell by 47% and for 16-month-olds by 58% between 2019 and 2020.
The anti-vaccine movement has grown exponentially as messages are promoted on social media by conservative political officials and outside influencers whose anti-vaccine campaigns predate the pandemic.
Concerns are developing concerning the reappearance of diseases that had been completely eradicated in many regions of the world as routine immunization rates are declining.
As per health consultancy Avalere, which examines insurer claims, the rates of adult and adolescent vaccination against diseases like influenza, hepatitis, measles, tetanus, and shingles have also decreased.
For adults and children aged seven and older, this resulted in an estimated 37 million missed vaccine shots between January 2020 and July 2021, according to Avalere.
Early pandemic declines can be attributed to shelter-in-place orders and social exclusion, but according to Avalere managing director Jason Hall, "there is a risk of a bleed-over" of COVID-19 vaccination disinformation that impacts other vaccines with a long history of safety.
A coalition made up of libertarians, conservative politicians, and sincere anti-vaccine zealots has emerged thanks in part to social media. According to David Broniatowski, a professor at George Washington University and associate director of the school's Institute for Data, Democracy, and Politics, these segments have been boosted by misinformation players from Russia and other countries.
While libertarians, foreign agents, and anti-vaccine campaigners may not always work together, he highlighted that they have "discovered a common cause" in fighting vaccine requirements.
According to a 2021 YouGov poll, which indicated that 28% of Americans and sizable numbers in other nations believe the truth regarding the negative consequences of vaccines is being "deliberately disguised," conspiracy theories have increased during the pandemic.