The wealthy California county just north of San Francisco has one of the nation’s highest Covid-19 vaccination rates after years of being known for parents who opposed shots for childhood diseases.


By Soumya Karlamangla

For more than a decade, few places in the nation were associated with anti-vaccine movements as much as Marin County, the bluff-lined peninsula of coastal redwoods and stunning views just north of San Francisco.

This corner of the Bay Area had become a prime example of a highly educated, affluent community with low childhood vaccination rates, driven by a contingent of liberal parents skeptical of traditional medicine. Marin was something of a paradox to mainstream Democrats, and often a punching bag. In 2015, during a measles outbreak in California, the comedian Jon Stewart blamed Marin parents for being guilty of a “mindful stupidity.”

But Marin is the anti-vaccine capital no more.

In the pandemic age, getting a Covid-19 shot has become the defining “vax” or “anti-vax” litmus test, and on that account, Marin County has embraced vaccines at rates that surpass the vast majority of communities in the nation. It comes after public health efforts to change parents’ opinions, as well as a strict state mandate that students get vaccinated for childhood diseases.

And as the nation has grown more polarized, Marin residents are less comfortable wearing the “anti-vax” label increasingly associated with conservatives. Americans who identify as Democrats are more than twice as likely to be vaccinated and boosted against Covid — and Marin County is one of the bluest enclaves in America.

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