MILWAUKEE — Wisconsin physicians today blasted U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson for hosting a media event yesterday designed to sow doubt about COVID-19 vaccines that could dissuade people from getting vaccinations and protecting themselves against the deadly disease. The physicians urged Wisconsinites to get vaccinated — and Johnson to instead use his position and platform to encourage people to get vaccinations.
“As physicians, we call on Sen. Ron Johnson to do the responsible thing, share with people that COVID-19 vaccines are demonstrably safe and effective, and encourage people to protect themselves against COVID-19 by getting vaccinated,” said Dr. Madelaine Tully, a family physician in Milwaukee County. “Sen. Ron Johnson is putting people’s lives at risk here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and nationwide with his unrelenting campaign to spread disinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccinations that protect people. Instead of recklessly spreading lies, our senator should use his position and his platform to tell people the truth, and that’s that COVID-19 vaccines are safe, they are effective and they save lives.”
Johnson’s disinformation event seemingly aims to raise doubts about COVID-19 safety measures, including vaccinations. Johnson has repeatedly misled on vaccine safety by citing a database for people to report reactions to vaccinations, which are then investigated by health experts. The reports to the database, known as the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, themselves do not prove any causal link between adverse reactions and the vaccinations themselves.
Recent evidence shows that nearly all COVID-19 deaths are among people who did not get vaccinated. Because of the effectiveness and safety of the COVID-19 vaccines, public health officials say “nearly every death” from COVID-19 can be prevented with vaccines.
“Lacking any medical background, Senator Ron Johnson should not be injecting his own opinions into these conversations with his constituents, including the misquoting of information from the VAERS system,” said Dr. William Reed, a cardiothoracic surgeon in La Crosse. “Senator Johnson has undermined the public’s confidence in the safety of the vaccine.”
Ongoing analyses show that the COVID-19 vaccines remain highly effective at protecting people from getting infected and being hospitalized, including from the highly contagious and rapidly spreading delta variant. Johnson, who got COVID-19 in October 2020, has often claimed that vaccinations were unnecessary for people with natural immunity — a claim at odds with science and evidence.
Johnson has long spread medically inaccurate misinformation about COVID-19. He has downplayed warnings from medical and health experts, accusing physicians of exaggerating the virus’ impact. He held a Senate hearing and invited people with fringe radical opinions who falsely and dangerously claimed with no evidence that hydroxychloroquine cures COVID-19.
“By continuing to embrace conspiracy theories, misinformation and falsehoods, Sen. Ron Johnson is making it harder for health professionals to protect our patients and their loved ones against COVID-19,” said Dr. Scott Walker, a family medicine physician in Prairie Du Chien. “Sen. Johnson’s refusal to share the truth about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines endangers the people we work so hard to keep healthy. Sen. Johnson’s failure to help get as many people vaccinated and protected as possible gives COVID-19 and all its mutating variants a chance to re-establish themselves among unvaccinated people, threaten new outbreaks and kill more people. The longer the virus remains active in Wisconsin, the more time it can adapt as new potentially vaccine-resistant variants, and that’s bad news for all of us.”
About the Committee to Protect Health Care
The Committee to Protect Health Care, formerly known as the Committee to Protect Medicare, is a national mobilization of doctors, health care professionals, and advocates who are building a pro-patient health care majority in Congress and in states so that we can live in an America where everyone has the health care they need to thrive. To learn more: www.committeetoprotect.org