Vaccine Wars

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Vaccine Wars

Post by Rach3 » Wed Nov 17, 2021 6:02 pm

The criminal Dark Side at work:

STAT News - 11/17/2021

For months, Republicans like Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte have railed against Covid-19 vaccine mandates. More recently, though, right-wing state legislators have floated proposals to ban requirements for all immunizations — not just coronavirus.

WASHINGTON — Right-wing politicians’ resistance to vaccine mandates is extending far beyond Covid-19 immunizations, a startling new development that carries vast implications for the future of public health.

In Idaho, a lawmaker introduced a bill that would define vaccine mandates — of any kind — as a form of assault. In Florida, a prominent state senator has called for a review of all vaccine requirements, including those for immunizations that have enjoyed wide public acceptance for decades, like polio and the measles, mumps, and rubella shot. And in Montana, the Republican governor recently signed into law a new bill that forbids businesses, including hospitals, from enforcing any vaccination requirements as a condition of employment.

The bills represent the latest wave of resistance to the Biden administration’s push to impose Covid-19 vaccine mandates for nearly all Americans. But the new, across-the-board revolt against vaccine requirements of any kind, experts told STAT, could begin to reverse a century of progress against diseases that, thanks to vaccines, are afterthoughts to most Americans.

“If you [challenge] all of the childhood vaccinations that are required, we could be in a really serious situation with outbreaks of diseases that long ago should have been eliminated in our society. We just can’t have that,” said Anthony Fauci, the government researcher and chief medical adviser to the Biden administration’s pandemic response, in a Tuesday interview at the 2021 STAT Summit.

In many cases, right-wing legislators’ resistance to vaccine mandates has been cloaked in rhetoric specific to Covid-19 immunizations. Upon closer reading, however, many of the proposals they have floated — some of which have already been signed into law — apply to all vaccines, not just the three currently authorized in the U.S. to prevent Covid.

A Tennessee proposal banning employer vaccine mandates, for one, doesn’t specify which immunizations it would apply to, meaning it effectively would apply to any requirement. Alabama’s GOP governor recently signed a new law banning any new vaccine mandates in schools, beyond those that already exist — a measure clearly aimed at Covid but with a potential impact on future immunization efforts.

Public health departments have a tough enough time vaccinating the public even with the benefit of existing laws that support mandates, said Lily Kan, the senior director for infectious diseases and informatics at the National Association of County and City Health Officials. When lawmakers step in to nullify those mandates, she added, that task becomes even more difficult.

“When there’s a direct lack of trust based on misinformation, disinformation, and active efforts to undermine vaccination rates, that’s really concerning,” she said. “We don’t want people to think that not getting vaccinated can be the norm.”

The assorted lawmakers’ push to effectively ban vaccine mandates altogether comes amid a dual crisis. Most pressing is the ongoing pandemic: The U.S. is still recording well over 1,000 Covid-19 deaths each day, and roughly 18% of the country’s adults remain unvaccinated.

Now, public health experts are beginning to express open alarm about plummeting childhood vaccination rates. In part, they stem from the pandemic itself: Many parents who have worked from home and whose children have attended school remotely have simply made fewer trips into doctors’ offices for fear of Covid-19 exposure.

In 2020, the World Health Organizations reported that across the globe, childhood immunization rates dropped from 86% to 83%. Roughly 23 million babies didn’t receive basic vaccines normally given, the highest number since 2009.

“Even before the pandemic, there were worrying signs that we were beginning to lose ground in the fight to immunize children against preventable child illness, including with the widespread measles outbreaks two years ago,” Henrietta Fore, UNICEF’s executive director, said in a recent statement. “The pandemic has made a bad situation worse.”

Increasingly, though, those low vaccination rates may also be driven by turbocharged vaccine skepticism and outright misinformation that has clouded parents’ judgment.

Even before Covid-19, some U.S. communities had begun to experience outbreaks of diseases that most of the country has largely eradicated. In two recent high-profile instances, a Somali-American community in Minnesota and a largely Orthodox Jewish town outside New York City experienced major measles clusters in 2017 and 2019, respectively. In both cases, the outbreaks were driven by lower-than-ideal vaccination rates, which in turn stemmed from active misinformation campaigns.

The new wave of resistance to vaccine mandates of any type, however, marks the start of a completely new era of vaccine politics.

“There are real conversations to be had about individual liberty versus public health, government overreach, all of that stuff,” said Nahid Bhadelia, a physician-researcher who leads the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Policy and Research at Boston University. “But the level to which this has been politicized — it’s on purpose, and it’s toward the goal of continuing to create strife around the pandemic.”

Still, other experts have warned that governments should factor in inevitable backlash when imposing requirements for Covid-19 vaccines and other immunizations. In situations where most of the population is already vaccinated, sweeping mandates could do more harm than good in the long run, argued Scott Gottlieb, the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner and Pfizer board member.

“The risk is [that] organized opposition to this OSHA mandate starts to bleed into broader opposition to vaccination and vaccine mandates more generally, and mandates society long embraced become part of this new political fashion,” he wrote this month on Twitter, referring to the Biden administration’s recent requirement that large companies must mandate their employees to be either vaccinated against Covid or tested weekly. “And a whole generation starts to turn against vaccines.”

But an anti-vaccine generation might already be the reality. According to one recent poll, the partisan divide over Covid-19 vaccination has crept into the country’s annual flu vaccination campaign.

In 2020, one AP-NORC poll showed just a 4% gap between Democrats’ and Republicans’ desire to be immunized against the flu. Two surveys conducted in 2021, however, paint a grimmer picture: Now, Democrats are more enthusiastic than Republicans about flu vaccines by a 24% or 25% margin, according to Axios/Ipsos and Kaiser Family Foundation, respectively.

“It’s the perfect storm, because there’s growing vaccine hesitancy, an anti-vax lobby growing more powerful, and this growing milieu of disinformation,” Bhadelia said. “There is a general societal movement here in the U.S. to undermine public health recommendations.”

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Re: Vaccine Wars

Post by maestrob » Thu Nov 18, 2021 8:28 am

As G.O.P. Fights Mask and Vaccine Mandates, Florida Takes the Lead

Florida lawmakers, at the request of Gov. Ron DeSantis, passed new laws sharply curtailing mask and vaccine mandates. Fringe anti-vaccination views met with little pushback.

By Patricia Mazzei
Nov. 17, 2021

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Early this year, Gov. Ron DeSantis crisscrossed Florida promoting coronavirus vaccines, visiting retiree communities and hospitals, and celebrating people who got their shots.

But it was a remarkably different picture this week, when Florida’s lieutenant governor, Jeanette Nuñez, was a prominent speaker at a rally organized by anti-vaccination activists on the State Capitol steps.

The jarring scene gave vaccine skeptics in Florida a big win and moved the state further away from the guidance of federal public health officials, reflecting how a highly politicized pandemic has only become more so as Republican-controlled states confront the Biden administration’s wide-ranging attempts to ease it.

Perhaps no state has been more aggressive than Florida, where Mr. DeSantis and his allies are betting that the anger over public health restrictions that drove Republicans to the polls this month in Virginia, New Jersey and other states will grow their political base and keep voters fervently engaged going into the 2022 midterms. Mr. DeSantis, who faces re-election next year, is also considered a leading 2024 Republican presidential contender.

The evolving strategy has turned traditional politics in Florida upside down, creating a tension between Republican state lawmakers and big business, one of their key constituencies, while leaving the small minority of Democratic legislators to defend local government efforts to control the virus.

Almost entirely along party lines, Republicans passed four bills on Wednesday to curtail mask and vaccine mandates, the culmination of a three-day special legislative session that Mr. DeSantis called so swiftly it caught even Republican leaders by surprise. The session was urgently needed to combat federal government overreach, Mr. DeSantis argued.

“No Floridian should be losing their job over Covid shots,” Mr. DeSantis, who has taken to dismissing the vaccinations as “jabs” or “injections,” said on Tuesday. “That’s a personal decision that people should be able to make.”

The move against vaccination requirements has empowered groups whose fringe views on the vaccines were met with little pushback from Republican legislators, a striking departure from past Florida politics.

“The conscience of their caucus has been hijacked by extremes,” said Representative Ramon Alexander, a Tallahassee Democrat. “It’s a danger to democracy.”

Mr. DeSantis and Republican lawmakers insisted that they support Covid-19 vaccines — and in many cases noted that they have taken them.

“No one is arguing that the vaccine doesn’t work,” Senator Danny Burgess, a Zephyrhills Republican, said on the Senate floor. “Thank God that we have a vaccine.”

House Speaker Chris Sprowls, a Palm Harbor Republican, said the new legislation was aimed at allowing Floridians to decide for themselves.

“We’re getting to this place where nuance is lost on everyone,” he said. “You can be for a vaccine or for the opportunity for people to get a vaccine and still not support a massive government-forced vaccination.”

Similar paradigm shifts have been occurring in other Republican-controlled states, including Texas, where business leaders in the past most often saw their interests reflected in the actions of lawmakers. Now, those same lawmakers are instead channeling the wishes of activists who oppose Covid vaccinations altogether under the guise of promoting story

About 60,800 people have died of Covid-19 in Florida. The state was hit hard by the virus this summer, when the Delta variant filled hospitals in much of the state with more patients than at any time during the pandemic. That wave has burned itself out, and in recent days new cases and hospitalizations have fallen to some of the lowest levels in the country. About 61 percent of Florida’s population is fully vaccinated, slightly higher than the national average, according to federal data.

Critics of the governor have said that his fight against mandates resulted in needless deaths. Florida experienced its worst daily death tolls during this year’s summer surge, when vaccines were already widely available.

As cases spiked, Mr. DeSantis fought local school districts and governments that required masks or vaccines, withholding funds, fining them or taking them to court. (Most school districts have now loosened their mask restrictions, in light of the falling virus levels.)

The DeSantis administration ended its declared coronavirus emergency in June. It shut down state-run mass vaccination and testing sites. Unlike when the vaccines first came out, the governor has not made a big push for people to get boosters or their children vaccinated.

Instead, Mr. DeSantis has encouraged police officers to move to Florida if they left out-of-state law enforcement agencies because they did not want to get vaccinated. In August, he said whether someone gets vaccinated “really doesn’t impact me or anyone else” — though society collectively benefits when more people get vaccinated.

The governor the following month stood on a podium in Gainesville next to a city employee who falsely claimed that a coronavirus vaccine “changes your RNA,” and did not challenge his assertion. “I don’t even remember him saying that, so it’s not anything I’ve said,” Mr. DeSantis said the next day.

The governor’s dalliance with vaccine doubters may have begun in April, when Mr. DeSantis declined to get his Johnson & Johnson shot in public, joking that he did not need to show off his biceps. (He has since declined to say if he has received a recommended booster or intends to get one.)

In September, Mr. DeSantis picked as Florida’s new surgeon general Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo, an outspoken mask and vaccine skeptic who has not disclosed whether he has been vaccinated. The Florida Department of Health, under his guidance, would have significant authority over how the state enforces anti-mandate legislation.

Last month, Dr. Ladapo declined to wear a mask when he went to meet with Senator Tina Polsky, a Boca Raton Democrat, even after she said she had a serious health condition and asked him to. She later publicly disclosed that she had recently undergone surgery for breast cancer.

On Wednesday, Ms. Polsky drew a line from the governor’s selection of Dr. Ladapo to Republican lawmakers’ tolerance of the anti-vaccination activists who filled legislative committee meetings this week.

“You can all say that you’re pro-vaccine and anti-mandate, but these actions are playing to this crowd,” she said on the Senate floor.

Many lawmakers worried that businesses wanted to retain the ability to impose mandates; many of the state’s biggest employers, including Disney, already have them. And business owners, they said, did not want to face conflicting state and federal laws.

The Biden administration has ordered federal employees and contractors to be vaccinated, as well as employees of health care companies that receive Medicare and Medicaid. Several states with conservative governors, including Florida, have already challenged those federal mandates in court.

In the end, lawmakers did not go as far as the governor had hoped.

They banned vaccine mandates for public school districts and local governments and gave parents sole discretion over whether students should get vaccinated or wear masks. (The DeSantis administration fined Leon County $3.5 million last month for mandating vaccines for its employees — $5,000 for each person.)

They allowed vaccine mandates for private businesses as long as companies included exemptions for medical and religious reasons that were expected to be much broader than the federal exemptions. Employees could also opt out if they were willing to be periodically tested or wear protective equipment, like masks. Employers would have to pay for the tests or provide the masks.

The Legislature also imposed fines of $50,000 per violation for employers with 100 workers or more (and fines of $10,000 for smaller employers) that mandate vaccines outside the allowable guidelines.

Lawmakers also allocated $1 million to the governor’s office to study leaving the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a clear jab at the Biden administration’s workplace order.

Democrats overwhelmingly opposed the new legislation.

“Does this bill really truly attempt to keep Floridians safe?” said Representative Angie Nixon, a Jacksonville Democrat, who contracted Covid while she was pregnant last year. “Or was it crafted to kick off a presidential campaign for our governor?”

Patricia Mazzei is the Miami bureau chief, covering Florida and Puerto Rico. Before joining The Times, she was the political writer for The Miami Herald. She was born and raised in Venezuela, and is bilingual in Spanish. ... id-19.html

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Re: Vaccine Wars

Post by Rach3 » Thu Nov 25, 2021 8:28 pm

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Re: Vaccine Wars

Post by Rach3 » Mon Nov 29, 2021 11:49 am

The criminal GOP at work.From AxiosAm today :

Republican officials are using unemployment benefits to build loyalty with unvaccinated Americans and undermine President Biden's mandates.

Florida, Iowa, Kansas and Tennessee have changed rules to allow benefits for workers who are fired or quit over vaccine requirements, Axios' Andrew Solender, Alayna Treene and Stef Kight report.

Why it matters: Extending benefits to the unvaccinated is the latest in a series of GOP efforts to court people who won't get a COVID shot.

Republicans see a prime opportunity to rally their base ahead of next year's midterms.

What's happening: Two states with Republican governors — Montana and Tennessee — have banned mandates, according to the National Academy for State Health Policy.

Seven GOP-controlled states — Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Texas, Utah and West Virginia — have passed laws requiring opt-outs and/or exemptions for the Biden administration's vaccine mandate.

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Re: Vaccine Wars

Post by maestrob » Mon Nov 29, 2021 3:39 pm

So now they think that state law "trumps" federal law?

Give me a break! :roll:

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Re: Vaccine Wars

Post by Rach3 » Mon Nov 29, 2021 7:02 pm

I dont believe this is the first incompetent Federal judge to rule with the crazies, and Missouri is as bad as Texas and Wisconsin.From Iowa Public Radio tonight:

“ A federal judge in Missouri has temporarily blocked a federal vaccine mandate for health care workers in 10 states, including Iowa. Gov. Kim Reynolds joined a lawsuit with nine other states earlier in the month to challenge a federal vaccine requirement for health care facilities, calling the mandate "an attack on individual liberties." The new court order prohibits implementation of the health care worker vaccine mandate in the states that signed onto the lawsuit. It’s on hold until there’s a trial or a court says otherwise.”

Proves the adage that when someone moves from Iowa to Missouri ( feel free to substitute), the average IQ of both States is increased.

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