As Wisconsin Republicans gather this weekend for their state convention, a frequent political pundit question is whether the GOP can move beyond former President Donald Trump. U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson is ready to move beyond Trump into pernicious political pandering to anti-vaccination paranoia.
Johnson sent out an announcement Thursday that he is planning on holding a press conference in Milwaukee on Monday with people who have suffered possible side effects from the Covid-19 vaccines.
“U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) will hold a press conference on Monday in Milwaukee with families from across the country who will share their experiences regarding adverse reactions to Covid-19 vaccines and how the medical community has repeatedly ignored their concerns,” the press release said. “The senator will also speak to his advocacy for early treatment and the importance of American’s health care freedom.”
Johnson has been a frequent proponent of hydroxychloroquine (and other unproven medications) for the treatment of Covid-19, despite the opinion of the Food and Drug Administration that the drug is ineffective and possibly dangerous. The senator’s YouTube account was suspended after he touted the benefits of the drug.
Fox 6 News in Milwaukee, which set aside the request by Johnson’s office that the press release was for planning purposes only, asked Johnson about the event.
“None of us are anti-vaxxers. We’re all huge supporters of vaccines. I’ve gotten every vaccine, every flu vaccine. I’m up to date on all my other vaccines,” Johnson told Fox 6. “I’m glad that literally hundreds of millions of Americans have been vaccinated and been protected, but I don’t think you can ignore some of the issues, some of the problems.”
Johnson has refused to be vaccinated for Covid-19, saying that he has already had the disease. He was criticized at the time for making public appearances even though he was infected.
As Fox 6 News reported, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) says the vaccines are safe for nearly everyone.
The CDC reports more than 320 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered, meaning if all 5,078 VAERS deaths are later found to be causally linked with the shot, it would be 0.001%. Johns Hopkins University finds COVID-19 itself is much deadlier in the U.S., killing 1.8% of those infected.
“There are occasional side effects. They’ve been very mild. And the risk of dying from COVID, if you’re unvaccinated or having long-haul syndrome is much higher than any kinds of issues patients have with side effects,” said UW Health Primary Care Dr. Jeff Huebner.
The rapid development of the Covid-19 vaccines was considered by Republicans a substantial accomplishment of the Trump Administration. However, Republican elected officials have pandered to the anti-vaccine portion of the public by opposing so-called “vaccination passports,” requirements by private businesses that their employees get vaccinated, and even refusing to publicly state whether or not they’ve been vaccinated.
Johnson is now taking it a step further with an event promoting the possible side effects of the vaccines which will discourage more members of the public from getting vaccinated despite the vaccines’ actual safety record. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, currently 45.6% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated, but the vaccination rate is slowing.