As California and the nation begin rolling out coronavirus vaccines, anti-vaccine campaigners are aligning with small-business owners and far-right groups, an effort that some experts fear could supercharge mistrust of government at a crucial moment for public health.
In California, the movement toward businesses is being led by a group calling itself Freedom Angels 2.0. Originally founded by three women in response to a 2019 state bill tightening vaccine requirements for attendance in schools, the organization was best known for its protests at the state Capitol against that measure and other vaccine legislation, often filling hallways and disrupting hearings with children in tow.
But as the coronavirus has spread, so has its message — encompassing a more mainstream, values-driven ideology that centers on government overreach. That broader approach has helped the organization interest a new audience in the business community, along with others worried about schools, the economy and the social toll of isolation for seniors.
“There is this strategic mission creep into other groups that might feel disaffected,” said Richard Carpiano, a professor of public policy and sociology at UC Riverside, who has followed the anti-vaccine movement.
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