Don't Miss Out

Subscribe to OCA's News & Alerts.

Led by Jeremy Corbyn, the British Left Opposes Vaccine Mandates as Anti-Worker and Repressive

The shorthand label “anti-vax” once had a clear and concise meaning: namely, those who reject the prevailing western scientific orthodoxy that vaccines are a safe and effective means of protecting humans against infectious diseases by training the immune system to combat a pathogen in advance. As vaccines become more prevalent against an increasingly wide range of diseases — measles, mumps, polio, chickenpox — a dissenting political and scientific movement has emerged which rejects the scientific premises of vaccines and attempts to persuade others not to vaccinate themselves or their children on the ground that they are ineffective, dangerous and/or motivated by corporate profit rather than legitimate concerns about public health.

But exactly as we have seen with so many other political labels — terrorist, racist, fascist, white nationalist, anti-Semite — this once-descriptive, precise and useful phrase has metamorphized far beyond its original meaning into something barely recognizable or cogent. That transformation has been deliberate, with a clear motive: to weaponize the term into a potent political insult designed to compel submission to decrees from institutions of authority and stigmatize dissenters, threatening them with reputation destruction. The rapid expansion of the term “anti-vax” into a coercive political weapon has been years in the making, but the COVID pandemic was the steroid it needed to blossom into one of the most reputation-crippling labels one can affix to a political target.