By Edwin Jones
Seventy four percent of subway poles across NYC are anti-vaxxers, based on a recent survey during the current measles crisis hitting the city. Subway poles, who typically ride the subway most days and therefore exposed to this ongoing crisis, were asked how they felt about the outbreak and what they were doing to stay protected.
Some of the questions asked of them included “Would you vaccinate due to the recent outbreak of measles?” and “Do you feel touch contributes to the spread of common illness?”
Belinda, a pole on the F train, felt like she was targeted and was simply another New Yorker going about her business, “Measles on me is just hysteria. Come on, we are not part of the problem. It’s a myth!” She felt like she was made to be part of the reason New Yorkers are in a panic, “I keep to myself and yet I am supposedly the threat! How would you like it, to be blamed or exposed as the problem? I refuse to accept vaccination as the answer!” Belinda, along with some of her friends were going to an anti-vaxxer rally this Friday in Williamsburg.
The most interesting thing to come out of the survey was the majority (74%) did not believe in taking a trip to their doctor to get the measles vaccine. “Usually I cannot make the doctor, as the subway is my main commitment, so I would rather not.” says Bastien on the 1, sometimes 2, train. “Also, I have heard that vaccines are just a way for the rich to get richer and us poles gain nothing but more grime”.
Local communities are banding together to talk to anti-vaxxers such as poles and have even provided flyers with speaking points. How to approach a pole with the right body language and how to not offend a pole, seemingly unusual flyers to discover but communities are taking this very seriously. Chantal from the West Village has successfully had some great conversations with the ant-vaxxers. “I feel they remain calm and respectful just like me, we ride the subway as fellow New Yorkers and I hope what I say to them really makes them think on their journey home. We are one New York.”
New York City has recorded at least 423 cases of the outbreak since October 2018 and there is no sign of this reducing. Public Heath emergencies have been declared in both New York City and Rockland County.
A few subway seats who overheard the survey reportedly chimed in and expressed their views which were not available at the time of printing.