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California’s War on Vaccine Skeptics
It is now approaching three years since the advent of COVID-19 in March 2020 provoked the most comprehensive and coercive response to a public health crisis that the United States has seen. From the earliest date, that policy has included lockdowns, social distancing, masking, and mRNA vaccines—all to stem the spread of the disease throughout the country. These tactics have long been opposed by many who think that more focused responses, which seek to isolate and protect the most vulnerable populations, offer a more tempered and effective response to the disease—a position well-expressed in the Great Barrington Declaration of October 4, 2020, which the conservative Brownstone Institute a year later observed “shattered the notion that there was a scientific consensus in favor of lockdowns.” Many other physicians have also expressed their uneasiness about COVID vaccine mandates, even as the federal government issued its own vaccine mandate in the employment context (it was struck down in January 2022 by the US Supreme Court in NFIB v. OSHA).
Nonetheless, public officials have continued to take strong exception to these dissenting voices. One recent piece of legislation in California, AB 2098, which took effect January 1, was written to allow California health officials to stifle dissent by revoking or suspending the licenses of those physicians who take issue with the official line of support for mRNA vaccines. The legislative findings relied explicitly on the work of the CDC and the FDA to conclude that “the risk of dying of COVID-19 for unvaccinated individuals is eleven times greater than for vaccinated individuals,” and that the spread of erroneous information “has weakened public confidence,” especially by licensed professions, thereby placing lives at risk. The payoff:
Section 2270—Dissemination of misinformation or disinformation related to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, or “COVID-19,” designated unprofessional conduct.