The Atlantic

Inside the Mind of an Anti-vaxxer

The majority of Americans will need to take the coming COVID-19 vaccine. Here’s how to persuade those who won’t want to.
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Sometime in the coming months, our prayers will have been answered. The researchers will have pulled their all-nighters, mountains will have been moved, glass vials will have been shipped, and a vaccine that protects us from the novel coronavirus will be here. We will all clamber to get it so we can go back to school, work, restaurants, and life.

All of us, that is, except for people like Marcus Nel-Jamal Hamm. Hamm, a Black actor and professional wrestler, is what some might call an “anti-vaxxer,” though he finds that term derogatory and reductive. Since about 2013, he’s been running a Facebook page called “Over Vaccination Nation,” which now has more than 3,000 followers. One recent post is a video by the anti-vaccinationist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., wrongly suggesting that mercury-laced vaccines are shipped to predominantly Black communities.

Hamm’s wariness of vaccines began when he took his son, who is now 10, to get vaccinated as a baby. He asked the pediatrician whether the boy could be exempted from the standard vaccine schedule because he has relatives with multiple sclerosis and autism. According to Hamm, the doctor treated him like a criminal just for asking.

The experience left Hamm in a fog of

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