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Press Release Published: Jul 28, 2023

Hearing Wrap Up: COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates Sacrificed Individual Freedoms for False Security

WASHINGTON — The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic held a hearing titled “Because I Said So: Examining the Science and Impact of COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates” to evaluate the necessity and effectiveness of overreaching COVID-19 vaccine mandates and consider the erosion of public trust that stemmed from coercive vaccination policies. Select Subcommittee members asked expert witnesses about the effects on military readiness caused by separating military service members who refused the vaccine and examined the societal impact of disregarding medical freedom, patient-physician relationships, and clear scientific standards to impose politically motivated mandates.

Both minority and majority witnesses testified to increased vaccine hesitancy across America that was sparked by an erosion of public trust in government and health officials. Select Subcommittee members and witnesses described the heartbreaking personal and professional repercussions experienced by countless Americans when they chose to exercise their bodily autonomy. As the after-action review of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop, the Select Subcommittee seeks to uncover the consequences of overreaching mandates to prevent future administrations from similar abuses of executive power with disastrous long-term results.

Key Takeaways

The Biden Administration forced a novel COVID-19 vaccine on millions of Americans without considering the health of the individual or natural immunity. Removing physicians from this medical decision was politically expedient in the short term but has had disastrous long-term consequences.

  • Dr. Kevin Bardosh, Affiliate Assistant Professor at the University of Washington, detailed the findings of his research paper regarding the societal and scientific effects of forcing a novel vaccine on millions of Americans: “Our analysis strongly suggests that mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policies have had damaging effects on public trust, vaccine confidence, political polarization, human rights, inequities, and social well-being. We question the effectiveness and consequences, of course, of vaccine policy in pandemic response and urge the public health community and policymakers to return to nondiscriminatory trust-based public health approaches. We started the results section of this paper with what is kind of a shocking statement, actually, when you think about it, and I quote ‘Although studies suggest that current COVID policies are likely to increase population vaccination rates to some degree, gains were largest in those under 30 years old, a very low risk group and in countries with below average uptake.’ So the totality of actual data on increases in vaccination rates from mandates and passports does not suggest an overwhelmingly positive impact. For example, a recent study on indoor vaccine passports, found no significant impact on COVID-19 vaccine uptake, cases, or deaths across all nine U.S. cities that implemented this policy.”
  • Ms. Allision Williams, former ESPN reporter and current FOX Sports reporter, described the influence of federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates on private company policies, which ultimately led to the termination of her employment and public vilification: “Just like that, newly pregnant, I was stripped of my job, my health insurance and having my personal and medical decisions the topic of national news. It is hard to explain what it is like to have so much taken from you for doing what you know in your heart and mind to be the right thing for you and your family. The financial toll it took on my family and so many others like us was significant, and still enduring. The lost wages and sacrifices made by families like mine who stood up to the overreaching, unjustified mandates to preserve their autonomy and health can never be fully recovered.”

COVID-19 vaccine mandates reduced military readiness and potentially harmed America’s national security by forcing the healthiest among us to receive the vaccine or face involuntary separation from military service.

  • Ms. Danielle Runyan, Senior Counsel at First Liberty Institute, outlined the Biden Administration’s destructive military COVID-19 vaccine mandate that decreased recruitment and readiness: “The Department of Defense boldly promoted that coercive and punitive actions would be taken against those who refused the vaccine. In fact, the Chief of Naval Operations issued a policy that threatened religious objectors with the loss of their careers, potentially crippling debt, and involuntary separation. It also provided that the Navy may seek recoupment of applicable bonuses, special and incentive pays, and the cost of training and education for service members refusing the vaccine. For special operations personnel, such as SEALS, this meant that the Navy was threatening to force each of them to pay back over a million dollars. While those with religious objections did not fall into the category of a refuser, they were harshly treated as such.”
  • Ms. Danielle Runyan, who defended a group of Navy SEALs after they refused the COVID-19 vaccine, highlighted a tragic example of unwarranted persecution for exercising protected religious liberty rights: “He is a distinguished officer selected by the Navy in 2017 to attend post-graduate school and to fulfill the role as department head at sea for three years after graduation. As part of his selection, he accepted a retention bonus of $105,000 that was being dispersed over a period of years. But when he submitted his religious accommodation request, his entire world changed. Leading to significant anxiety and depression with PTSD like symptoms that are documented in his record. Simply because Levi exercised his religious liberty rights, he was consistently harassed by leadership, repeatedly counseled on his accommodation request, was issued a report of misconduct, and was ultimately faced with the prospect of involuntary separation. Levi had an excellent record of service, but was being targeted for adhering to his sincerely held religious beliefs. To make matters worse, Levi was unable to become a department head as he originally had planned. Because the Navy prevented him from satisfying the commitment he made in 2017, he was now facing the Navy’s recoupment and repayment policy. This means that the hundreds of thousands of dollars the Navy spent on educating him were required to be repaid and the recoupment process began when Levi did not receive his 2022 installment of bonus pay.”

The Biden Administration’s vaccine mandates failed to stop the spread of COVID-19, and instead, increased distrust in public health officials and heightened vaccine hesitancy that will persist for years to come.

  • Dr. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, opened his round of questioning by pointing out the mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policies were not based in science and the coercive nature of these policies created significant distrust in the vaccines themselves: “It doesn’t help, I would say, in the messaging, which is really what a lot of this came down to in many ways, and the process. It doesn’t help when you have a high-level candidate saying about the vaccine, well if it comes out under Donald Trump, I’m not taking it. And then that same person gets in office and then mandates that you take it. You know, I only have an undergrad degree in psychology, but I understand human nature. I practiced privately for 26 years. You know, I saw thousands and thousands of patients. Part of that is figuring out the best way to reach your patients so they have an understanding, a confidence, a trust in you.”
  • Minority witness Dr. John Lynch, Associate Professor of Medicine and Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the University of Washington School of Medicine, highlighted an increase in distrust of public health authorities and a surge in vaccine hesitancy created by COVID-19 vaccine mandates: “There has been resistance to COVID-19 vaccine requirements in spreading misinformation. It is important to understand these perspectives and find ways to improve trust in vaccines and in public health. We must improve communications, include more of the why, more of the information, and what stands behind our recommendations and requirements. Medical recommendations and public health policies must evolve with the changing pandemic.”

Member Highlights

Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic Chairman Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) pointed out that the divisive rhetoric and coercive tactics employed by public health officials disregarded natural immunity and scientific evidence.

Dr. Wenstrup: “Do you do you think that ignoring or putting aside infection acquired immunity, natural immunity may have had negative consequences? We weren’t even allowed to talk about it?”

Dr. Bardosh: “I think it showed the American people that the government and our authorities will bold facely lie on camera. It was obvious. In mid 2021, I watched with dismay as the Biden Administration and the CDC said this vaccine will stop transmission. I was looking at the data from Israel and the UK where I have colleagues, and I knew that it wasn’t going to stop transmission because it wasn’t in their data. How did Americans not know this? It was clear and yet we sort of had this charade.”

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa) highlighted the lasting ramifications of the five, major federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates which were rescinded, overturned, or otherwise ended as a result of unconstitutional efforts by the Biden Administration.

Dr. Miller-Meeks: “Dr. Bardosh, your paper in the British Medical Journal of Global Health discusses the unintended consequences of the COVID-19 vaccine mandates. The Biden administration imposed several, including the DOD mandate for military service members, the executive order mandate for federal employees and contractors, the OSHA mandate for employers with 100 or more employees, the CMS mandate for health care workers at facilities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid, and the HHS Head Start Program COVID-19 vaccine mandate for which we know young children are at the least risk. Can you highlight the ramifications of these mandates, such as no jab, no jab policies, vaccine passports and social lockdowns for the unvaccinated?”

Dr. Bardosh: “There is no doubt in my mind that these mandate policies are going to be responsible for the increase in distrust the next time there’s a pandemic and the mobilization of resistance to a future vaccine in a future pandemic. And I think it’s really shocking, and kind of a little bit sad, that my colleagues in the public health community, who are pro-mandate, don’t understand this.”

Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) blasted coercive COVID-19 vaccine mandates that abandoned medical choice and trampled individual freedoms in exchange for political expediency and a false sense of security.

Rep. Lesko: “I wish Representative Dingell was still here because I found her conversation interesting. She said that she would not take a flu vaccine again and that she talked to multiple doctors and decided to get the COVID vaccine. The thing is, she had a choice, right? She had a choice. And that’s the difference. So many other people, it was a mandate. And that’s what’s wrong. I support people having a choice. If they want to get a vaccine, get a vaccine. If they don’t want to get a vaccine, they should not be forced by our government to get a vaccine.”

Dr. John Joyce (R-Pa.) broke down the arguments in Dr. Kevin Bardosh’s research paper which focused on the tremendous societal impact of imposing an unscientific vaccine on millions of Americans without sufficient evidence to support the policy decisions.

Rep. Joyce: “Did the COVID vaccine mandates, from your research, from your publication with others, erode civil liberties?”

Dr. Bardosh: “Yes, it did.”

Dr. Joyce: “Did the COVID vaccine mandates fracture trust in public health officials?”

Dr. Bardosh: “Yes, it did.”

Dr. Joyce: “Did the COVID vaccine mandates create financial stress on individuals and families who lost their jobs to the COVID mandates?”

Dr. Bardosh: “Absolutely.”

Dr. Joyce: “Do you feel that the decrease in individuals receiving routine pediatric immunizations for their children, do you feel that is due to the mandates of the COVID vaccine?”

Dr. Bardosh: “Yes, I do.”

Dr. Joyce: “Do you feel that the COVID-19 vaccine mandates have harmed America?”

Dr. Bardosh: “Yes, I do.”

Dr. Ronny Jackson (R-Ga.) questioned the morality of forcing healthy pregnant women to receive the novel COVID-19 vaccine when there was a lack of data to support the mandate for this unique population.

Dr. Jackson: “There were no studies. None. And no information available on a potential risk to a developing fetus and no information on fertility. Yet despite this, pregnant women and women trying to get pregnant were not provided an exemption to these totalitarian vaccine mandates. Many of these women were young and otherwise healthy, with no significant risk from the virus. The CDC and the WHO, for political reasons and not scientific reasons, also disregarded this unique population and this lack of important data and pushed for pregnant women to get vaccinated. Even benign, over-the-counter drug medications always say you should check with your doctor first if you are pregnant. We just heard one of our witnesses today, Ms. Williams, tell part of her story and how she had to make this difficult decision between her job, her concerns about her soon to be pregnancy and taking the vaccine. Ms. Williams, you stated that you had a conversation with your doctor, is that correct?”

Ms. Williams: “Yes, I did.”

Dr. Jackson: “And you stated that he supported your decision to forego the vaccine. Is that also correct?”

Ms. Williams: “He did, yes.”

Dr. Jackson: “I suspect that there were initially many such conversations.”