A coronavirus vaccine might not end the pandemic — thanks to antivaxxers: report
Mississippi Parents for Vaccine Rights via Facebook

There are many obstacles to developing a usable coronavirus vaccine — it has to be proven safe and effective, and there are lingering questions about how long the immunity will even last.

On Saturday, The New York Times reported another problem: even if researchers develop a safe, usable vaccine that confers long-term immunity to COVID-19, a large contingent of "antivaxxers" may still refuse to protect themselves, giving the virus a reservoir that can trigger periodic new outbreaks.

"A poll in May by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that only about half of Americans said they would be willing to get a coronavirus vaccine," reported Jan Hoffman "One in five said they would refuse and 31 percent were uncertain. A poll in late June by researchers at the University of Miami found that 22 percent of white and Latino respondents and 42 percent of Black respondents said they agreed with this statement: 'The coronavirus is being used to force a dangerous and unnecessary vaccine on Americans.'"

“Our phones are ringing off the hook with people who are saying, ‘I’ve gotten every vaccine, but I’m not getting this one. How do I opt out?'” said Jackie Schlegel, who founded Texans for Vaccine Choice. According to the report, she said she often must tell callers, “They’re not coming to your home to force-vax you.”

The "antivax" movement has persisted under the surface of American culture for years, with many people peddling conspiracy theories about the ingredients in vaccines and some pushing a debunked idea that links them to autism. Some highly infectious diseases, like measles, require vaccine compliance upwards of up to 95 percent to achieve "herd immunity," meaning that even a tiny uptick of people refusing to vaccinate can trigger outbreaks of preventable illness.

Though scientists lack full data on its spread patterns, COVID-19 is thought to be an extremely contagious disease that spreads without symptoms, so vaccine compliance will likely need to be very high to keep it at bay.