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California State Senator "Antivaxxers Are Extremists"

An opinion article by Richard Pan makes no difference between anti-vaxxers and extremists.

Richard Pan is a pediatrician and a California state senator. He is the honorary co-chair of

Vaccines do not stop viruses. Vaccinations do that. This common public health saying means that a vaccine is no good if we can't get it into people's arms. Insufficient supplies, natural disasters, and bureaucratic errors have slowed efforts, but the overall goal of vaccinating a large majority of the American population could eventually be stunted by the anti-vaccination movement unless measures are taken to mitigate its impact.

dr. Richard Pan 🇺🇸 (@DrPanMD) | Twitter

Richard Pan.

Otherwise America could experience more scenes, like the one in Los Angeles on Jan. 30, when a crowd of anti-vaccine protesters entered Dodger Stadium. stormed , one of the country's largest vaccination centers. These extremists managed to temporarily close the site, which meant that patients, many of them elderly, could no longer be vaccinated. The anti-vaccine activists have told the Los Angeles Times that they have  plan  are continuing to disrupt vaccination efforts.

This campaign to deny potentially life-saving vaccines to those who need them, and to poison public opinion against vaccinations, could lead to countless American deaths. That resembles domestic terrorism.

Public health officials, police and firefighters must join forces with a common goal: to secure vaccination sites for patients. But, like the virus itself, anti-vaccine extremists are smart about finding new ways to threaten people. Disruptions can happen wherever vaccinations are administered, in locations large and small - even pharmacies, just as anti-masking devices have employees and customers in stores  harassed .

Laws need to be strengthened to deter such actions. We can still honor the First Amendment and make sure people have access to vaccinations. Laws have been in place for years to create buffer zones to keep protesters away from abortion clinics - legislation that has passed numerous judicial challenges. Los Angeles is setting up such a zone in front of Dodger Stadium.

Similar laws can certainly be enacted to discourage intimidation of those seeking protection from a deadly virus.

An important weapon of anti-vaccine extremists is the ability to launch disinformation campaigns Facebook  and other social media. Business owners of these platforms can moderate groups that promote disinformation and endanger lives  Close . Why don't these companies treat anti-vaccine activists the same way?

A disturbing thought is that both the social media companies and the extremists have a financial interest in continuing as before. Coordinated attacks on the truth by anti-vaccine propagandists are the best advertisement for the  alternative medicine  and magic supplements many anti-vaccine leaders to their followers sell .

At the time HCQ was seen as a medicine and a vaccine itself, Now it is worn as an "alternative medicine" and "magic supplement"

In other words, the financial well-being of some anti-vaccine leaders depends on putting the health and safety of others at risk. Social media companies should not be complicit in this dangerous movement.

I do not underestimate the backlash from anti-vaccine protesters awaiting anyone trying to curb their toxic efforts. When the  the measles  Disneyland in 2015 - a sad result of an ongoing, misinformation campaign against the measles vaccine - I wrote a California law abolishing non-medical exemptions for vaccinations required for school enrollment. We needed to restore community immunity to measles, and that was the best way to achieve this. Because I sponsored the bill, I was attacked - and am still harassed - by these anti-science extremists. In 2019, one of them fell on me physically on the streets of Sacramento and proudly streamed it live to its 4.500 Facebook followers.

Taking coordinated action to counter the coronavirus anti - vaccine movement has resulted in violent threats to me and my legislative colleagues as early as Thursday. Last month called out an anti-vaccine extremist from the Senate Hall: "We didn't buy weapons for nothing." But that shouldn't stop anyone interested in fighting the pandemic from defending evidence-based policies.

In addition to legislation, the government needs to better educate people about the benefits of vaccines for the entire community. We must fully fund the local health departments, protect public health officials and rely on those officials - not politicians - to lead in times of health crisis. There is no room for bias in a pandemic that killed more than half a million Americans.

The country's original motto, "E pluribus unum," or "Out of many, one," defines our sacred civic duty to love others as much as we love ourselves. As Pope Francis has said of the coronavirus  vaccines , "It's the moral choice, because it's about your life, but also the lives of others." Getting vaccinated is a patriotic act. So does supporting public health efforts. Let us not allow extremism, division or fear to slow down efforts to end this deadly chapter in our nation's history.

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