Anti- Vaxxers: A User’s Guide

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Consider the following interlinked propositions. Rising vaccination rates will reduce the growth of Covid-19 patient numbers. Most of these will be unvaccinated, as is the case already. Individuals without vaccine protection will spread the virus more efficiently than those with a double jab (given two weeks previously). As the unvaccinated inevitably become Covid-infected, many will need hospital care. Some will die. Hospitals and the health system can only cope if unvaccinated numbers decline further. In Auckland and Waikato, this eventuality will ease lockdown restrictions under the new ‘traffic lights’ system if vaccination thresholds are met. I can’t verify the preceding propositions here. However, they comport with the research findings of virologists, immunologists, epidemiologists and statistical modellers.

Clearly, our national health depends upon the number and behaviour of unvaccinated individuals. How, then, do we confront them without condescension, anger or vilification? My answer rests on two observations. First, one must distinguish between non-vaxxers and anti-vaxxers. The former include those who are drug-addicted, mentally unstable, transient, desperately poor and suspicious of legal authority (criminals, overstayers). Individuals who inhabit one or more of these categories are immune to official health messages, government announcements and vaxathon initiatives. Second, anti-vaxxers are diverse and fragmented. If there was no pandemic and no vaccination campaign, they would have little in common. What follows is a selection of anti-vaxxer archetypes. I may have missed some. If so, send them in, our national health depends on it. Bear in mind though that there is not necessarily a one-to-one correspondence between each archetype and a given person. Some anti-vaxxers may exhibit a combination of archetypes. Let us proceed.

 

The libertarian anti-vaxxer. No room for nuance here. They profess an absolute commitment to individual rights and a virulent distrust of the state. Government-facilitated vaccination campaigns should be opposed on principle, even during a pandemic. This overlooks the fact that rights are inseparable from social context. Covid 19 infections attack the very interdependence of human life, scientifically based vaccination initiatives protect this interdependence. Libertarian anti- vaxxers don’t get this. Deep down, they are solipsists incapable of recognising social obligations and responsibilities. If you dislike sneering aggression, leave these people alone.

The wellness anti-vaxxer. This archetype descends from 1960s and 1970s counter-culture (think Nambassa), human potential movement (think Centrepoint) and 1990s new-agers (think crystals). Most recently, extreme proponents of ‘wellness’ reject most medical science and embrace ‘holistic’ alternative therapies. Vaccines are seen as pollutants which disrupt chakras and damage human wellbeing. Such beliefs are expressed in terms of quiet conviction rather than loud declaration. They can be found in Coromandel, Hokianga, Tasman and other such locations. This archetype appears among teachers, midwives and yoga instructors. ‘Wellness’ militancy is gender neutral, although women have had greater media prominence.

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The religious anti-vaxxer. I refer here to Christian anti-vaxxers, but all religions have them. If a theistic, omnipotent God loves and protects believers, then they don’t need vaccines. If theocratic authority trumps scientific validity, then appeals to reason fall on deaf ears. The local religious leader knows more about viruses than Ashley Bloomfield or Michael Baker. Within Christianity, this mindset is found among sectarian Protestants. If a plausible con man with a bible can persuade a congregation or prayer meeting that they are receiving the word of God, then any theological statement can be invented. Local interpreters of God’s word may regard Covid-19 as divine punishment for human wickedness. Official proponents of vaccination may appear as agents of Satan. On this view, mandatory vaccination edicts from medical professionals, employers or education authorities are signs of persecution rather than public health concern. Best known examples of this archetype are male and patriarchal with staunch female allies. To the extent that Christian anti-vaxxers are Māori or Pasifika, the legacy of colonialism remains strong. For anti-vaxx churches, lockdowns reduce tithe revenue. Instead of admitting this truth, they resort to religious dogma and even libertarian precepts, if it is convenient to do so.

The f—k you anti-vaxxer. Among the marginalised and politically disengaged, resentment of authority is instinctive. A typical refrain might be “don’t try and jab me shithead, you can stick it up your arse.” Special pleading won’t work—“if this is so important to you then guess what, I won’t do it.” Those within this archetype don’t really oppose vaccination; they just hate the entire political class of pro-vaccinators. F—k you anti-vaxxers are hard to dig out but are more numerous than you might think. Just ask vaccination workers in South Auckland, West Auckland, East Cape, rural Northland and South Island’s west coast. Although male cohorts predominate, hatred for authority is common to all demographics within marginalised groups. Class is the great unifier here. After 35 plus years of neoliberalism, our poorest citizens are economically excluded and tuned out of public life. 

The conspiracy-afflicted anti-vaxxer. Belief in conspiracies correlates with indiscriminate social media use. Facebook and Google algorithms introduce the vulnerable to conspiracy sites and networks. The shares, dislikes and downloads which they are generate are sold to advertisers. This business model nurtures the following anti-vaxxer mindset. A cabal of (choose one) paedophiles/telecommunication executives/UN plutocrats/Jewish financiers/woke cultural Marxists/Chinese party officials have created the pandemic and/or pushed vaccines with horrific side effects. Many individuals access anti-vaxx conspiracy content and pass it on without thinking. Some may be amenable to the messaging. The afflicted anti-vaxxer archetype is different. It suggests a condition whereby s/he is possessed by conspiracy beliefs which are endlessly recited among the like-minded. Beyond these generalities, participant-observer research is scarce. Infiltrating anti-vaxxer conspiracy sects is not easy.

The bullet-proof anti-vaxxer. You know the sort—“fight for your right to party.” Recent video footage from a late-night Albany gathering revealed snippets of this archetype. To be fair, most would have taken their vaccines and partied on. Others, however, would feel no need for the jab—“How could I possibly be badly infected?” For the healthy, fit and strong, Covid-19 is merely a passing flu. “Why social distance and spoil the fun?” “Dancing, snogging and twerking is fine…for f–ksake, open the French doors then… or do it on the deck.” Outdoors, bullet-proof antivaxxers reserve the right to surf, ski, fly, tramp and/or hunt whenever and wherever they choose. The archetype is young, male, charismatic and full of brio. They can be won over if a close friend ends up on a ventilator. 

The quack anti-vaxxer. Here is the strangest and most perplexing archetype of all. Won’t accept the tested vaccines on offer, but willing to try other untested vaccine medication, e.g., Ivermectin, Novavax. Thankfully, in Aotearoa, there are no bleach enthusiasts. Other anti-vaxx mindsets have a weird internal coherence. Their premises are wrong and the reasoning faulty, but you can see a belief system. By contrast, quack anti-vaxxers exemplify cognitive dissonance. Each one is idiosyncratic and appears immersed in their own private world.

 

To reiterate, these are archetypes, not singular individuals. Thus, certain anti-vaxxers may exhibit both libertarian and wellness beliefs. Adherence to conspiracies may complement religious and f—k you anti-vaxx convictions. The rest of us are exasperated with all of them—anti-vaxx proselytisers endanger public health and the viability of hospital care. Maybe we should appeal to their self-interest—change your mind before you become ill.

43 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for this comprehensive treatise. As you have pointed out, one or two of these archetypes might be persuaded to get vaxed. However I fear that most of them won’t be. Let’s hope they are a small percentage of the population.

  2. Drugs.
    I know people, generally, because at my perilous age, I’ve come to know myself. People, et al, are me. And Me, et all, are people.
    And if there’s one thing I hate, and there are more than one or two things I hate, it’s being proven that I’m wrong.
    Religion must have proved to be a timely creation of the desperate imagination back in the day? All we had to do then was blame poor old God.
    Now a days, all we have is public media and the psycho monsters who script that particular shit show.
    Today, however, all we have is our own minds to guide us through ever increasingly dangerous and bewildering complex times.
    That’s why we need good drugs, like methyl​enedioxy​methamphetamine aka MDMA, aka ecstasy or E etc.
    Almost all people who’ve taken E couldn’t have hurt others. But there’s one other vitally important reaction to taking E and that is that it gives we, the people, an ability to admit we were wrong.
    Like racists, sexists, abusers generally and, of course, devout anti vaccination people could easily and without the usual dangerously primitive emotions clogging up the works admit they were, and are, wrong.
    If I were to suggest all drugs were to be made legal, as in NOT illegal then I’d hear the chair scraping of indignation from the luddites rumble over the land as the tore at the cap of yet another bottle of wine.
    C-19 and its variants are showing us one thing certainly. That in order survive we must all be at peace with each other and to co-operate without feeling threatened by each other.
    And that’s not going to happen while we get pissed while watching TV.

    • Keep it up countryboy. Your clarity (or is it claret as well?) is improving all the time. Love your posts.

    • True that divide and conquer has been ramped up a few notches, but what I get from my neighbours and fellow man on the street is more of an empathy and non hatred toward the anti vaxed.

      The smear campaigns currently show little traction,, though persecution of minorities is a favourite sport among the ruling classes. The long hairs, the greenies, the god botherers, the people who care about others.
      Like scapegoating in general, it continues the repressed fear in the compliant, which is more of the reasoning than affecting the uncompliant.

      To me the biggest reasons people get vaccinated appears to be commercial, to get back to work or reopen businesses, as well as to get the fucking kids back in school, and to stop pretending you love your spouse 24/7. People are dying to slag off their loved ones to their best friends again.

      CB, I would suggest you to read this page http://www.6000years.org/frame.php?page=dinosaurs

      sure religion is a shit show, but just because we have junk food and boy bands, doesn’t mean we should throw out the baby with the bathwater, and stop listening to all music or eating good foods

      Slaying dragons was real not that long ago, and there may still be a few lying around. Brave and noble knights come in many shades, however all will perish in this time, like the dinosaurs and taniwha of olde.

      The human genome is rapidly deteriorating in these times, and will not recover, like the planet.
      Like a much copied cassette tape, the original recording is now scratchy and all the high noted have reduced to a static-y mumble that is torture to the ears. Best to toss it

  3. More insane tribalism.
    If you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem, right? We’re so willing to demonise a portion of the population because they’re not willing to get vaccinated
    While the research showing the vaccine is initially very effective in reducing the severity of illness, the research regarding effect on transmission is not so conclusive https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/oct/28/covid-vaccinated-likely-unjabbed-infect-cohabiters-study-suggests
    What is well proven though is comorbidities like obesity and blood pressure radically increase chance of hospitalisation. Should we ban those people from travelling with the same voracity that we have for the unvaccinated?

    • The evidence the vaccine is effective in reducing transmission IS overwhelmingly conclusive. The article you site shows that if one person in a household has covid they are likely to pass it to others in the same household whether or not they are vaccinated. However, all around the world the unvaccinated are overwhelmingly more likely to catch covid than those who are not. This implies you are more likely to pick up covid from casual exposure if you are unvaccinated, even though massive exposure is likely to infect even the vaccinated.

    • Thank you Read, it is indeed more insane tribalism. This pandemic has shown the real Kiwi, Left and Right. Vacced and unvacced. All incapable of tolerating dissent or facts that contradict their tribal position. .

      We are faced with a moving picture, inflexibility rules the day.

  4. Interesting taxonomy. Liked the link with alienation due to neoliberalism. Probably also needs to be links with social media and disinformation in general. There has been a fundamental breakdown of social connectedness – ironically mainly since the advent of social media platforms which has been exacerbated by widespread underlying anxiety due to the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic.
    In addition the US presidency of Donald Trump and his version of reality (again fueled by social media) and his ability to deny science and evidence as ‘fake news’ has resulted in an environment conducive to ignoring evidence, science, and the truth. This, of course, allows for the denial of what the vast but shrinking majority of the population know to be the right thing to do.

  5. Then there’s the Right Wing Troll type anti-vaxer. He’s white & affluent. He’s double vaccinated (though he won’t admit it) & has private health insurance. He has plenty of time for shit posting whilst “working” at home on full salary. He loves hunting the gullible, losers & Libtards for sport. He’s happy to lie or misrepresent the truth to push his point or to sucker in losers. He thinks explaining is losing (unless mansplaining is required). He believes in nothing but his own superiority, though he will pretend he does “care” if it furthers his agenda. He’ll push quack theories & cures for shits & giggles. He doesn’t care if you get sick or die, as long as you don’t screw with his lifestyle. He’s only here for the LOLs and to prove what losers & idiots everyone else is. Watching the world burn is fun, as long as he can still have his takeaway long black & overseas holidays. He will never admit to being a troll or being wrong. “He” is always his preferred pronoun.

        • So too is my hypothetical Right Wing Troll anti-vaxer, what disqualifies Mr Hosking is that he never purports to being an anti-vaxer. He’s probably quite keen to protect his own life & most likely has “better” things to do with his time than online trolling, he probably prefers to get paid.

        • Funny that while reading the Richard Slade comment I couldn’t help thinking of you and frank and john and a few others who constantly troll this blog.

          • GB. No worries, I consider myself a fair commenter. This platform is special because although people like you consider it a left wing site and anyone with an opinion different to yours is a troll, the fact is it welcomes all political opinion. I considered Mike and Richard were wrong politicising antivax types and I stand by that. If you don’t agree that’s your right, but I think my comment was fair. Was yours.

            • I’m not saying anti-vaxers are right wing, most of the ones I know that have fallen down that particular rabbit hole are definitely left wing, my message is beware those who are feeding you your “information” as they could be Right Wing Trolls, feeding you misinformation for their own amusement.

              Don’t take any information you find for granted, fully read documents from the original sources rather than the “edited” highlights many share, do your own research by all means, but if your research leads you to a YouTube clip by someone with no or dodgy qualifications and a barrow to push, then you might want to find a better definition of the term “research”.

            • Oh and if you think the COVID outbreak hasn’t been politicised already, you must have missed the last year or so.

              The trick is to work out whether you’re a pawn or a player, and if you realise you are a pawn, then try & work out who is playing you & what their game is. A pawn may become one of the most powerful pieces on the board, but most are cast aside without a second thought. Don’t be a pawn.

            • Whilst I disagree on a number of issues New View, you articulate your view very well and fair, you do so without the vile and are a fair commentator.

  6. So just to throw the cat amongst the pigeons – I’d like to see the Abdala Vaccine available here.

    If taking it means I don’t have to have booster shots, I thinking I’d prefer it.

  7. And then there’s the majority: It’s great that big pharma funded fact checkers are removing doctors from social media. It’s great that medical authorities and government are coercing doctors against their will. The government wouldn’t lie to us. Big pharma wouldn’t lie to us. Media wouldn’t lie to us.

  8. And another EFT POS church anti vax protest in Auckland today of 5000. Although supposedly freedom of choice march, one protest sign said “question the injection”. Hannah Tamaki leading the way this time as Brianhas given up the protest as he likes his freedom so much( oh the irony).
    So a record 160 community covid cases today, 151 in Auckland, one can only hope the 5000 don’t become infected, however if anyone should and need hospital treatment, remember those that are pro vax and mandate tolerant will be the ones, keeping you alive.

  9. The 5000 that marched in Auckland need to be rounded up and made to watch what happens in ICU and what being unvaxed could lead to .

    • Sadly Trevor the time for rational thinking in Auckland is fading. Coming up 3 months of heavy lockdown with shifting politicians promises, that if we hit 90% double vaxxed in Aucklands 3 DHB’s and if this and if that, Auckland can come out of a straight jacket and be held in a padded cell of some red light lockdown. Yippee!

      That protest yesterday wasn’t an annoyance any more for the majority who have tried to do the right thing as demanded by government, it’s a taste of things to come for the 1.7 million ignored by Wellington.

  10. Sadly Trevor the time for rational thinking in Auckland is fading. Coming up 3 months of heavy lockdown with shifting politicians promises, that if we hit 90% double vaxxed in Aucklands 3 DHB’s and if this and if that, Auckland can come out of a straight jacket and be held in a padded cell of some red light lockdown. Yippee!

    That protest yesterday wasn’t an annoyance any more for the majority who have tried to do the right thing as demanded by government, it’s a taste of things to come for the 1.7 million ignored by Wellington.

  11. By the way, I’m anti this particular vaccine.

    My reason is none of the above, and neither am I worried about nano chips, aliens (bring ’em on!), depopulation agendas. It’s a much more simple concern – our ministry of health has not become an innovator just because we are in a global crisis, in other words it’s clear to me that our response is months out of date given the existing data.

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