Anti-vaxxer

The term “anti-vaxxer” has different meanings and connotations for many. Few people would openly call themselves an “anti-vaxxer,” as the term is typically used as a pejorative. Who it applies to, or who it ought to apply to, is a topic of fierce debate.

Some see it reasonable to use the term to describe anyone who holds one or multiple of the following attitudes: a) skepticism of a specific vaccine and/or the profit motives behind it; b) opposition to mandatory vaccines, whether via government, schools or businesses; c) opposition to all vaccination. 

Some believe the term “anti-vaxxer” is a legitimate way to refer to someone who is opposed to mandatory vaccination. Those who disagree say someone who is opposed to mandatory vaccination is not in fact an “anti-vaxxer,” and those who are opposed to mandatory vaccination reject being lumped in with people who are opposed to all vaccination.

Some say the term anti-vaxxer is now applied too broadly, and it is unfairly wielded against people who have questions about specific vaccines and pharmaceutical financial motives, but who are not opposed to vaccination on the whole. “Anti-vaxxer,” in this view, should only refer to someone who is opposed to all vaccination entirely. 

Some say “anti-vaxxer” is a slur or pejorative term that can be used to shut down questions and debate around the efficacy of specific vaccines. 

The term “anti-vaxxer” initially arose to label or describe those involved in a movement against vaccines based on theories and allegations that vaccines cause autism and other brain disorders, and/or are concerned about the long-term effects of vaccines. The evolution of the term, and whether it is being fairly or unfairly applied to people with other views or questions about vaccines, has led to disagreement.

Contributors: 

Julie Mastrine, John Gable, Henry Brechter, Andrew Weinzierl, Joseph Ratliff

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