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Health Officials Raise Concerns Over Sen. Johnson's COVID-19 Vaccine Claims

Simone Cazares
Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson organized a press conference Monday to highlight stories of people who say they have experienced serious side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine.

Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson continues to raise questions about the COVID-19 vaccine that critics say are misleading, dangerous or false.

On Monday, Johnson organized a press conference in Milwaukee to highlight stories of people who say they have experienced serious side effects.

At the start of the event, Johnson claimed he supports people who choose to get vaccinated, but later said he doesn’t believe people are getting the full picture.

“I think it's important to recognize that there are people that have been harmed by the vaccine,” he said. “If we don't acknowledge that fact, how do you treat people that you're not even acknowledging the root cause of their problem?”

Candace Hayden of Michigan was one of the people who spoke. She said she experienced serious side effects from the vaccine and wished her concerns would be taken more seriously by medical professionals.

“I am pro vaccine, I am pro science and I understand the vaccine is for the greater good,” Hayden said. “However, I also understand that we represent a small portion experiencing negative side effects. We trusted science and we did our part. As a result, we are now synonymous to wounded soldiers who should not be left behind.”

Many officials disagree with Johnson’s claims. Milwaukee's Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson issued a statement, saying the senator used his platform Monday "to raise misleading concerns" about a vaccine that is safe and effective and has rare complications.

Dr. Robert Freedland, an ophthalmologist in La Crosse, also weighed in. He said he is concerned about misinformation Johnson promotes.

“I think what Sen. Johnson is doing is very damaging to the health and welfare of the people of Wisconsin,” Freedland said. “He is accentuating the negatives instead of looking toward the positives of vaccinations and discouraging people.”

Freedland said no vaccine comes without risk and sympathizes with those who have had negative experiences. Still, he said the likelihood of serious side effects is low and he hopes more people will get vaccinated.

In 2021, Simone Cazares was WUWM's Eric Von Fellow and then a reporter.
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