Enlarge /. SALEM OR. – MAY 02: A nurse holds a sign at the ReOpen Oregon Rally. Demonstrators gathered in the state capital to demand the reopening of the state and to protest Governor Kate Brown's order, which was introduced to slow the spread of COVID-19.
According to a New York Times report, prominent voices against vaccines have joined protesters' noise against socially distancing measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The merging movements have worried some health professionals that the mood against vaccination could spread among the various factions protesting the mitigation effort. These factions include tea party activists, armed militia groups, demonstrators with Confederate flags, and some business owners who just want to reopen, experts said to the Times.
"There is an enormous amount of cross-fertilization of ideas when these factions get to know each other," said Devin Burghart, who heads the Institute for Human Rights Research and Education, the Times.
Anti-vaccine supporters see it differently and argue that the groups already have a common motive. "From day one, it has been difficult for us to always be flagged as an anti-vaccine, and these protests are flagged as an anti-lockdown." We were always about freedom, ”Heidi Muñoz Gleisner told The Times.
Together with the other two women, Muñoz Gleisner founded the Freedom Angels Foundation, which is particularly known in California for speaking out against vaccination requirements in the state in recent years. On Friday, Muñoz Gleisner held a protest in Sacramento against the state's order to stay at home, where she was arrested.
Other examples of anti-vaccine advocates protesting social distancing measures include New Yorker Rita Palma, a prominent advocate for vaccine choice, who also joined an anti-lockdown protest in Albany on Friday. Jonathan Lockwood, a consultant who has supported states' anti-vaccination efforts, founded the Reopen America project.
California State Senator (and MD) Richard Pan, who has written several vaccination laws in the state, said: "Ultimately, these groups all have the same message: we want you to get sick."
Health experts fear that the spread of vaccine ideas and conspiracy theories could frustrate efforts to combat COVID-19 if or if a vaccine against the devastating disease becomes available. While the majority of people in the United States support vaccination, the virus can remain in circulation through a variety of people who oppose life-saving immunization – as has been observed in measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases in recent years.