—and in spite of vaccination's demonstrated failure to live up to its silver bullet promises. However, one formidable interlocutor—the informed parent—has always stood in the way of a complete victory over children.
From the point of view of those who seek to impose vaccination at all costs, there is an obvious way to deal with troublesome parents—recast them as the villains! And presto, an anti-parent campaign is unfolding, right on cue. The clever playbook to discredit parents includes multiple strategies ranging from the insidious to the overt, including reframing parental concerns about vaccine safety as "barriers"; deploying media-savvy vaccine industry shills to inflame public sentiment; and laying down a legal and medical foundation to allow children to consent to vaccines without parental permission. An observant writer in the United Kingdom has even noted that government officials are "calling for a clamp down on parents speaking to each other at school gates"! In each case, the paternalistic implication is that benighted parents are not acting in their children's best interests and that experts know best.
Insulting parents' intelligence
The case of Ethan Lindenberger—a previously unvaccinated young adult who reportedly rushed out to get multiple vaccines as soon as he turned 18—is perhaps the best-known example of the strategy to depict non-vaccinating parents as dangerous ignoramuses. Lindenberger has become one of the anti-parent movement's baby-faced front men, trotted out in front of Congress and the United Nations to pityingly describe his parents as "kind of stupid" and his mother as the victim of "deeply rooted misinformation." (His mother's retort: "They've made him the poster child for the pharmaceutical industry.")
The burgeoning scientific literature on "vaccine-hesitant" parents is promoting a similar message, albeit dressed up in the veneer of impersonal academic research. The "vaccine-hesitant" moniker is apparently quite wide-ranging, encompassing not just parents who dissent from even one of the approximately 70 vaccines currently administered to children and adolescents, but also applied to parents who accept the premise of vaccination but wish to follow an alternative vaccine schedule.
From "vaccine hesitancy" researchers' perspective, a variety of "beliefs" may factor into a parental decision to decline one or more vaccines, but they are all "barriers" to be eliminated rather than legitimate concerns to be taken seriously. Beliefs that researchers want to sweep out of the way include the perception that:
-Children receive too many vaccines.
-Children may experience serious side effects from vaccines.
-Vaccines may have a negative impact on a child's immune system.
-Claims about vaccine efficacy have been overstated.
-Mandatory vaccination requirements for school entry constitute government overreach.