Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), a noted vaccine skeptic, has once again cast doubt on the effort to inoculate Americans against the coronavirus on conservative radio ― this time by using real information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that has repeatedly been cited out of context by anti-vaccine campaigners.The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or VAERS, is an open-access system maintained by the CDC in order to track potential negative effects of immunizations.As the VAERS website clearly states, the reports it contains have not been verified, and anyone with an internet connection can submit one.It’s not new; the CDC has been running it for three decades. But during the coronavirus pandemic, it has become a weapon for conspiracy theorists and anti-vaccination activists who use the numbers found there to spread misinformation about vaccines.Speaking with Vicki McKenna, a radio host in Madison, Wisconsin, Johnson brought up the VAERS system, saying, “We are over 3,000 deaths within 30 days of getting the vaccine. About 40% of those occur on day zero, one or two.”McKenna, who has previously used her show to spread vaccine misinformation, chimed in to say that was “probably a number that’s lagging.”The senator said he was merely “asking questions” and “sticking up for people who choose not to get vaccinated.”
Luckily CNN has been calling out RoJo’s dangerous bull shit:
Facts First: Johnson's insinuation that these reported deaths are tied to Covid-19 vaccines is entirely false. VAERS is not an official, vetted report of vaccine-related incidents. Anyone can submit a report and, as the system's website notes, “VAERS is not designed to determine if a vaccine caused a health problem” and “the reports may contain information that is incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental, or unverifiable.” Instead, the system allows the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and US Food and Drug Administration to monitor for vaccine adverse events and conduct follow-up investigations.
Johnson's senior communications adviser Alexa Henning told CNN in an email Friday evening, “The Senator is not suggesting the deaths were directly caused by the covid-19 vaccine,” adding that Johnson is instead calling for the submissions to VAERS to be taken “seriously and research what is going on.” Henning also noted Johnson's support for the development of Covid-19 vaccines under the Trump administration.
As the CDC notes, health care providers must report any death that follows a Covid-19 vaccination. The agency, along with the FDA, investigate each death reported to figure out whether the death was caused by a vaccine.From December 14, 2020, to May 3, more than 245 million doses of the vaccines have been given, the CDC website reports.“During this time, VAERS received 4,178 reports of death (0.0017%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine,” according to the CDC. The agency has found no causal link between the vaccines and these deaths.“A review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines,” the CDC says.The CDC says it is plausible that one of the three vaccines being used in the US, made by Johnson & Johnson, may in rare instances cause a dangerous blood clotting condition called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome. At last report, it had killed three people out of more than 8 million vaccinated, and hematologists have been quick to point out that the risk of dying from a blood clot caused by coronavirus infection is many hundreds of times higher than that. The CDC says the benefits of the vaccines greatly outweigh the risks.
The Wisconsin Republican also claimed there’s a risk of death if individuals who previously tested positive for Covid-19 receive a vaccine.
“I’m talking to doctors who have, since day one, been concerned about vaccinating people who’ve already had Covid, because you die, not of Covid, you die of the immune system overreaction to Covid,” Johnson said. “So there’s a concern there.”
Facts First: This is wrong. The vaccines currently being administered in the US are considered safe and recommended even for individuals who were previously infected with Covid-19.
The CDC recommends individuals be vaccinated regardless of whether they already had Covid-19 “because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19.” Early studies suggest individuals who were previously infected with the virus may only need one dose of certain Covid-19 vaccines.
And kudos to PoliticusUSA for capturing this:
Johnson started off by agreeing with Maria Bartiromo’s false claim that the coronavirus is a Chinese military weapon, “First let me tell you, does that shock anybody? It certainly doesn’t shock me? When you see militarization of the South China Sea. We should have been concerned. Anthony Fauci continues today to fund research and cooperate with the Wuhan lab, he had know full well that the Wuhan lab, any organization in China is connected to the communist party of China as well as the People’s Liberation Army. So what were we doing cooperating with China? I agree with Senator Paul, these are some serious questions and we need some answers but, again, I’ve been trying to get answers out of federal agencies for years and I’m not holding my breath.
Johnson then went to appear to connect the lack of federal action on conspiracy theories to Hunter Biden, “Well, I’m highly concerned. That is the issue. It’s one of the reasons that Senator Grassley issued the report before the elections so the American people can understand the foreign financial entanglements of the hunter Biden and the Biden family and how that might affect U.S. Foreign policy. The counterintelligence threats, extortion threats, we have no idea, none whatsoever. Again, we’ve written and trying to get information out of agencies but the media completely dismissed our report and said there was nothing in there. There was information in there. That’s part of the problem. We do not have an unbiased media. We don’t have journalists anymore. For the most part, we have advocates and extreme left-wing of the American political spectrum and hurting the country, it’s very dangerous.”
Sen. Ron Johnson said Sunday he’s “highly concerned” about the ability of President Joe Biden’s administration to handle the threats China poses and said a leaked document that revealed the nation’s malevolent intent for weaponizing coronaviruses should not shock anyone.
“When you see the militarization of the South China Sea islands, their malign actions around the globe, we should have been concerned,” the Wisconsin Republican said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo.”
It also “boggles” the mind that Dr. Anthony Fauci, in his role as head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “continued to research and cooperate” with the Wuhan Institute of Virology that was studying coronaviruses.
“He had to know full well that the Wuhan lab, any organization in China is connected to the Communist Party of China, as well as the People’s Liberation Army,” said Johnson. “What were we doing, cooperating with China? These are some serious questions and we need some answers, but again, I’ve been trying to get answers out of federal agencies for years and I’m not holding my breath.”
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