Anti-vaccination activists have taken a page from anti-abortion activists and have started standing outside clinics to physically confront people who are getting their children vaccinated.
NBC News reports that anti-vaxxers have decided that their online harassment and intimidation campaigns were not effective enough in dissuading parents from vaccinating their children, which is why they’re now banking on face-to-face confrontations to get the job done.
Dr. Peter Hotez, who has regularly been harassed by anti-vaxxers, tells NBC News that the attempts to physically intimidate vaccine advocates are part of an “awful new normal.”
Dr. Eve Krief, a pediatrician who has a clinic located in Long Island, New York, tells NBC News that she has witnesses anti-vaxxers crowd around her clinic and ask patients bringing in children if they’re getting vaccinated.
“It’s unsettling,” she told NBC.
Leah Russin, the executive director of advocacy group Vaccinate California, tells NBC that the anti-vaxx protesters showing up at clinics could further put children’s health at risk at a time when diseases such as measles are already making major comebacks in the United States.
“The threat of in-person violence has always been there,” she explained. “But I think the reality of it has escalated. My fear is that it’s going to drown out and shut down public health advocates.”