Republicans Vaccines Misinformation

In this September photo, demonstrators attend a press conference that turned into a rally against vaccine mandates outside the Statehouse in Concord, N.H. Republicans in New Hampshire are struggling to contain a wing of their party that is promoting conspiracy views around the COVID-19 vaccine and pushing back, sometimes aggressively, regarding federal mandates to get the shot.

BOSTON (AP) — Republican Rep. Ken Weyler was known around the New Hampshire Statehouse for dismissing the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines and opposing tens of millions of dollars in federal funds to promote vaccinations.

But when the 79-year-old Weyler, a retired commercial pilot and Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate who chaired the legislature’s powerful fiscal committee, sent a 52-page report likening vaccines to “organized mass murder,” Republican leaders were compelled to act.

“I don’t know of anyone who agrees with it. It’s absolute craziness,” said Republican House Speaker Sherman Packard, who quickly accepted Weyler’s resignation from his committee post.

The episode was especially piercing in New Hampshire, where the previous House speaker died of COVID-19 last year. It has also exposed Republicans’ persistent struggle to root out the misinformation that has taken hold in its ranks across the country.

A year and a half into the pandemic, surveys show Republicans are less worried about the threat from COVID-19 or its variants, less confident in science, less likely to be vaccinated than Democrats and independents and more opposed to vaccine mandates.

It’s a combination of views that comes with clear health risks — and potential political consequences. In a place like New Hampshire, where Republicans are hoping to win back congressional seats next year, politicians with fringe views stand to distract voters from the party’s agenda, driving away independents and moderates.

The risk is particularly clear in “Live Free or Die” New Hampshire, where the fight over vaccines has activated the libertarian wing of the GOP. The divisions have the potential to dominate Republican primaries, next year.

“What I wonder over the next year is whether all of this is the tip of the iceberg or the whole iceberg,” Dante Scala, political science professor at the University of New Hampshire, said.

Republicans in New Hampshire have struggled to unify around a common position since the pandemic first emerged.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu has been widely praised for his handling of the pandemic, but has also come under fire from conservative critics. They have pushed back on his state of emergency, which put limits on business operations and public gatherings, often holding rowdy protests, including some at his house.

Sununu, who is eyeing a run for Senate next year against Democratic US Sen. Maggie Hassan, joined other Republican leaders in opposing a federal vaccine mandate. But that did little to placate his critics, who repeatedly shouted down fellow Republicans during a press conference last month to protest the federal mandate.

Holding signs saying “I will die before I comply” and including one protester with an automatic weapon strapped to his back, the crowd took over the podium and put up their own speakers who predicted, without evidence, that the mandate would force the state’s hospitals to close.

The opposition from Republican leaders to federal vaccine mandates prompted one Republican lawmaker, Rep. William Marsh, to switch parties.

“The belief that is being put forward is that their individual rights trump everything, that no one has the right to impose, in this particular case, a vaccine mandate on a person ever,” said Marsh, a retired ophthalmologist, who was the vice chair on the House Health and Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee. “I am of the belief that, for people in a civilized society, individual rights are limited once they start to impinge on the rights of others.”

The Weyler controversy started last month when he first questioned Health and Human Services data about hospitalizations in the state. He suggested most of those hospitalized had been vaccinated, which prompted the state’s health commissioner to accuse him of spreading misinformation. In fact, 90% of those hospitalized had not been vaccinated, she said.

(1) comment

Jimzan 2.0

When you see "AP" why read the lies....they have been proven to be trash bags and liars....only idiots and parasites believe the AP.

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