As the world begins to recover from the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, experts are sounding the alarm about an emerging new threat vector: an actual hate movement targeting vaccinated folks.
In unmoderated and far right extremist havens like 4chan and Rumble, antivaxxers calling themselves "purebloods" are now openly flaunting their hatred towards those who took the shot by gloating about their supposed early vaccine-related deaths -- a totally debunked conspiracy theory heavily adjacent to "Q" beliefs.
This new breed of anti-vaxxer doesn't bother to feign much of an illusion of being the good guy. They spend their time spreading vile misinformation about the "clot shots" directly to the vaccinated, hoping to induce anxiety and terror in the very people who chose to protect themselves and their communities. Even major influencers are getting in on the bullying.
Anti-vaxx hatred is increasingly also spilling over into real life, with reports coming out of vaccinated individuals being shunned and ostracized, or even targeted with harassing taunts. Some have even lost their jobs or faced other forms of institutional discrimination as anti-vaxxers in positions of power want to play out some kind of sick and childish game of tit-for-tat.
This behavior is not only reprehensible, it's downright dangerous. The vaccines have undergone rigorous testing and have been proven to be safe and effective in preventing serious illness and death from Covid-19. Vaccines (and subsequent boosters) are a critical tool in the fight against the pandemic, and everyone (regardless of their vaccination status) stands to benefit from their widespread use.
The falsehood of "reverse discrimination"
Some unvaccinated individuals, when called out for their burgeoning hate campaign, claim that they are the ones being discriminated against. This odd claim is usually made by stringing together isolated cases of businesses or events requiring proof of vaccination to grant access to their private events, and claiming an overarching anti-Semitic conspiracy known as the "Great Reset." They also frequently invoke the idea that the vaccines contained 5g microchips that will bar them from entering heaven.
But the argument is inherently flawed and ignores the fact that there is no such thing as the debunked concept of "reverse discrimination." The unvaccinated are the ones engaged in hate campaigns from dark and hateful corners of the internet associated with white supremacy. The unvaccinated are by default the oppressors, and the vaccinated are the oppressed.
The conspiracy theory about discrimination against the unvaccinated appears to stem from the Republican Party, who in 2021 pushed misinformed bills to ban "discrimination against the unvaccinated."
Let's be crystal clear about this: the unvaccinated are not the ones facing discrimination and hate; it is the vaccinated who are the targets of online hate and real-life discrimination.
A path to healing
So how do we prevent discrimination against the vaccinated as the world heals from the worst pandemic since the Black Death?
One solution is to continue to educate the public, and in particular children, about the safety and effectiveness of the health measures that were taken to combat the virus. Dispelling myths and misinformation in future generations before they have time to germinate is crucial in combating the rise of future hate movements built on misinformation.
We also need businesses and organizations to recognize their responsibility in taking a stand against all forms of discrimination, and to establish policies that protect vaccinated individuals from the whims or taunts of the unvaccinated. This includes requiring proof of vaccination to access areas likely to contain vaccinated workers, and taking action against any individuals who engage in any level of hate speech.
It is also crucial for government and health officials to continue to promote the importance of vaccination and to make the vaccines and boosters widely and freely available to all. Everyone must receive the opportunity to be immunized and boosted against the virus. The more effectively we ensure this social good, the better we can reduce the number of unvaccinated bodies who might otherwise fester into a more coordinated political movement built on resentment. Initiatives such as vaccine passports can also limit the logistics and coordination of potential harmful terroristic activities like the mass Trucker attack in Canada.
Discrimination against the vaccinated is a harmful and destructive force that hinders the progress of our society by targeting the very best among us for ostracization and marginalization. Ultimately, preventing discrimination against the vaccinated requires a collective effort from all of us. We must stand up against hate and work together to cherish and protect the good and altruistic among us who chose to protect themselves and their communities.