Throughout the pandemic, such threats have become a nationwide issue in the United States.
Researchers have also found that some of the threats targeting public health officers come from people with known ties to far-right extremist groups.
Now, there’s renewed worry that such harassment may increase nationwide with upcoming efforts to vaccinate young children against Covid-19.
“There’s the potential that that could end up being one of these flash points where threats and harassment spike again,” McAdam told CNN. “Every time during the pandemic when there’s a new development, it brings the potential for that harassment to increase.”
‘I can only imagine this will increase’
The US Food and Drug Administration is now considering authorizing the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. With sign off by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shots could be administered by next week.
Pending that authorization, public health officers plan to help get shots into those young arms — but their efforts could come with more threats and harassment from the small minority of Americans who are anti-vaccine or Covid-19 skeptics.
“Unfortunately, I anticipate that this will be the case,” Brooke Torton, a senior staff attorney at the Network for Public Health Law, wrote in an email to CNN. “I can only imagine this will increase once younger children begin getting vaccinated.”
Public health officials continue to face threats for simply administering the vaccine due to widespread misinformation, Torton noted, and the idea of vaccine requirements has the potential to cause outrage among some parents.
Certain managers of vaccination programs already have experienced intimidating posts online during the pandemic, Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, told CNN.
The association even discussed plans with some of its members to organize giving awards to doctors and community leaders for being “champions” of vaccines — but some members voiced concern that such an award might invite threats and harassment against those being honored, Hannan said.
“Those who are speaking out against vaccines and doing that type of harassment are still in the very small minority, and I think it will stay that way,” she said. “But anytime there’s a new initiative, or in this case, a new vaccine coming for kids, then it’s something that we’d have to consider that there’s going to be that backlash from the anti-vaccine side.”
‘The very professionals that are trying to protect us, are unfairly being targeted’
Even though public …….