Polio is in New York: Thanks, Anti-Vaxxers

Years of opposition to basic public health measures have come back to hurt innocent people.

Photo by FRANK MERIÑO from Pexels

Few things in this world make me as angry as anti-vaxxers. The movement, though centuries old, has taken on a new dimension with the modern era that can only be described as arrogant ignorance. That ignorance proliferated and maintained by hacks like Del Bigtree, Andrew Wakefield and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has had horrific consequences as New York found out earlier this Friday, as reports showed that Polio, long thought eradicated, has been found in the wastewater of the city.

And all I can say is “thank you!” Thanks, anti-vaxxers. Your blind faith in hucksters and anti-science advocates who don’t care about you or your children has done what nature could not—bring back a deadly disease that destroyed the lives of thousands of Americans who, before vaccines, could only pray for mercy. What an accomplishment!

It doesn’t matter that Andrew Wakefield lied about his research and was trying to sell his own vaccine. Or that he falsified his patients’ medical histories. No, of course not. You had it all figured out; the doctors were lying, and the media was all in a cabal to force your kids to get autism. Never mind the horrific attitude towards Autistic children that such a statement implies. The anti-vaxx bloggers and amateur scientists will solve all of your problems! Don’t forget to donate to the substandard blogger’s bank account!

It didn’t matter that anti-vaccine activists preyed on Somali-Americans in Minnesota or that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. compared mandatory vaccination, which was largely not applied during Covid-19, to the Holocaust.

It didn’t matter that Del Bigtree, a pseudo-scientific documentarian, did the same thing by planting a Star of David on his chest in a rally before a litany of supporters.

All of this is to say that the anti-vaccine movement and its many propagandists had multiple opportunities to change course. Numerous red flags to acknowledge and act upon, but they never did.

Instead, low vaccination rates and an increasingly conspiratorial mindset among the populace have put the entire enterprise of the last several decades to the wayside. Make no mistake, public health officials will have to fight tooth and nail to protect people from a disease that some of us don’t acknowledge, and innocent people will suffer.

This is the cost of spreading anti-vaccine propaganda; unless there is some mechanism to crack down on it, we will all pay the price.


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