CONCORD, NH – A group of New Hampshire doctors want United States Senate candidates Bryant “Corky” Messner and Donald Bolduc to stop voicing what they say are dangerous theories about vaccines.
“You are both highly visible as candidates for the U.S. Senate, making your anti-vaccination positions especially dangerous. In recent weeks you both have pushed harmful conspiracy theories that could undermine the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the letter sent Wednesday states.
Messner’s campaign senior advisor Mike Biundo, said Messner wants the vaccine development process to be transparent and leave the choice to get vaccinated up to families and individuals.
“He believes that parents and individuals need to be able to make informed decisions, but that those decisions need to be mindful of public health,” Biundo wrote in an email response.
Bolduc said his views on vaccines are guided by his concerns about consent and civil rights.
“We need to be responsible about vaccines, where there’s risk there needs to be choice,” Bolduc said in a phone interview.
The letter, signed by five doctors including State Representative Dr. Gary Wood, D-Bow, calls out both Republican candidates for their statements about vaccines. Messner and Bolduc are currently in a primary race with the winner taking on incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in the fall.
“Mr. Messner, you have voiced your opposition to mandatory vaccines on numerous occasions, raising doubt about their efficacy and safety. Mr. Bolduc, you have similarly voiced opposition to life-saving mandatory vaccines and claimed, without evidence, they could somehow harm children, who are often the most vulnerable to deadly diseases if they are not vaccinated,” the letter states.
Wood said in an interview on Wednesday that the overly negative tone both Messner and Bolduc take on vaccines is troubling.
“I think if you look at some of their clips, they couch their comments in an extraordinarily negative manner,” Wood said.
Messner has spoken out in Youtube videos against a mandatory vaccination program, though Biundo said Messner believes there can be consequences for people who choose to not vaccinate.
“(Messner) also doesn’t think it is unreasonable for certain restrictions to be put on public school attendance for instance if someone chooses to ignore the public health ramifications,” Biundo wrote.
Bolduc said he is not opposed to a COVID-19 vaccine, but he wants to make sure any vaccine that is developed to combat COVID-19 goes through proper testing and research before it is released.
“I think it’s prudent that any vaccine go through proper testing, and probably more stringent testing than it’s going through now,” Bolduc said.
Wood said the video clips both candidates posted to YouTube discussing vaccines could damage people’s perceptions about the life-saving initiative. Both Bolduc and Messner, by virtue of their prominence, lend credibility to fringe theories about vaccines, Wood said.
“I would hope someone who is knowledgeable would look at that and say ‘this is a bag of wind,’” Wood said.
The letter, also signed by Drs. Tessa LaFortune of Concord, Chelsey Lewis of Manchester, Charles Blitzer of Durham, and Chris Peterson of Derry, states that if a vaccine for COVID-19 is developed, its widespread use would save lives and allow for a return to normal life.
“While there is no vaccine yet, we know that widespread vaccination — meaning 60 to 80 percent of the world — would be necessary to achieve herd immunity and allow us to safely resume daily life without fear of contagion,” the letter states.
Wood said that getting to herd immunity without a vaccine would mean illness, suffering, and death for many people, and the process could take much longer.
Bolduc noted that flu vaccines do not stop the annual flu season, and that he wants to have a realistic view of the medicine. Bolduc denied the letter’s charge that he is exploiting fear when he talks about opposing forced vaccinations.
“I’m a leader, I try to mitigate fear,” Bolduc said.
In a Youtube video, Bolduc made reference to a supposed plan to implant some sort of tracking microchips into people.
“The only bracelets anyone is going to put on me are handcuffs, because I’m fighting for my individual rights, my constitutional rights. And the only chip that’s going in me is a Dorito,” Bolduc said in the May video.
When asked about the microchip statement, Bolduc said Bill Gates, retired founder of MicroSoft, wants to implant people with tracking microchips (Link: USA Today: Fact check: Bill Gates is not planning to microchip the world through a COVID-19 vaccine).
“This is Bill Gates saying we should put chips inside people now. That’s a dangerous violation of my constitutional right,” Bolduc said.
Gates, for his part, has denied that he plans to implant microchips of any sort into people. In a recent USA Today report, Gates called that theory “stupid.”
“I’ve never been involved in any sort of microchip-type thing,” Gates is quoted as saying in the story. “It’s almost hard to deny this stuff because it’s so stupid or strange.”
The letter notes that the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and small children, are at greater risk of many potentially dangerous illnesses that can be mitigated or eliminated by proper vaccines.
“With candidates like you two fear-mongering about vaccines and spreading false conspiracy theories, widespread vaccination in our communities becomes much less likely, endangering our most at-risk populations,” the letter states.
The letter to Bolduc and Messner is below: