Millennials and Anti-Vaxxism

On this day when long-simmering anti-vaccination sentiment is getting an awful lot of attention, Josh Marshall reports a nugget of public opinion research that clearly discourages him a great deal: according to a YouGov survey, support for mandatory vaccinations for “childhood diseases like measles, mumps, whooping cough” is inversely correlated with age. Under-30s actually oppose it by a 42/43 margin, while those 30-44 support it 50/37; 45-64-year-olds support it 64/26, and seniors support it 73/21.

Why would that be the case? Josh suggests it’s because “society seems to has lost the historical memory of various horrific endemic childhood diseases,” and that’s almost certainly part of it, along with the well-known tendency of youngsters to be optimistic about their own health. Mistrust of government and other big institutions (e.g., Big Pharma and docs) is another factor. And while I don’t buy the idea that millennials are all crypto-libertarians, the word “required” in the survey probably goes over less well with them that with other cohorts. But no, it’s not the best news for the future of public health.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.