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 .
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.
A warning in advance, you will see that this "technique" will soon be used everywhere, but certainly also here in the Netherlands.