Anti-vaccine protests continue worldwide, but they’re still wrong

The world should turn a blind eye to anti-vaccine protests

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Jon Asgeirsson / Daily Collegian

By Conor Johnston, Collegian Columnist

Anti-vaxxers protesting a couple of years ago would probably have conditioned a single universal response: a long sigh. The truth is, the entire world looked down on anti-vaxxers for a clear lack of foundational evidence. Yet today, the debate over vaccinations’ efficacy is as lively as ever, and anti-vaxxers are having the last laugh as their club grows. Ironically, their foundation hasn’t really gained all that much evidence, as the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines have been proven time and time again to be effective and safe.

The newest example of anti-vax protest started in Ottawa, Canada, with hundreds of trucks. Truck drivers protesting vaccine mandates, mask mandates and school closures have assembled to block roads because they feel their rights are being infringed upon. This has sparked global protests, as more and more groups join together in a fight for their “rights.” This demonstration has stretched to countries such as New Zealand and even the United States.

The biggest problem that I have with these protests is how people are leveraging individual rights as a reason to not to get vaccinated. As mentioned, vaccinations are proven to be safe and reduce transmission and death to a virus that has shut down our world for two years. Vaccines are the best way to get us out of this pandemic. Citizens have a civic responsibility to not only protect themselves, but each other as well. Using “freedom” as an excuse not to get your vaccination is a gross misrepresentation of what oppression actually looks like in society.

Oppression is your government considering you three-fifths of a person or not being able to get married due to your sexual orientation. Oppression is being unable to practice the religion of your choice. Oppression is absolutely not, and will never be, having to get a free vaccination that protects against a deadly virus that has destabilized the world.

Another commonality that is seen in a lot of these protests is comparing significant tragedies to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. In the Ottawa protests, strung along are symbols such as the Confederate flag and the swastika. Yes, you heard that correctly, far-right protestors are using these symbols not only to indicate their beliefs, but to compare themselves to Holocaust victims. This egregious and extremely problematic comparison exemplifies just how far their victim complex can go.

What’s worse is that these comparisons are emboldened by United States politicians. Republican representative for the state of Ohio, Warren Davidson, compared vaccine mandates to the Holocaust. More and more far-right groups and politicians are signing onto this delusion of persecution—and it needs to stop. Besides the obvious implications of being extremely insensitive, these falsified beliefs will build real problems in the future. The protests in Ottawa alone have caused $300 million in damage to the local industry.

It’s time for the world to turn a blind eye to these protests. Protesting in response to their beliefs will only exacerbate the issue, and it’s become apparent that reasoning with most anti-vaxxers is cyclical, as all of existing scientific evidence does not support their base. As their protests become more and more problematic, often it is our reactions to their terrible comparisons that make them stand their ground. In the infamous allegory of Plato’s Cave, there lies someone who finds the truth and one who only stays in an echo-chamber cave watching shadows of reality. Groups who push anti-vax protests need to finally leave the cave and see the light.

Conor Johnston can be reached at [email protected].