Donald Trump put his Christian conservative vice president, Mike Pence, in charge of the U.S.’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. But now Pence has forcefully come out against vaccine mandates, insisting in a new column for the Christian Post that COVID-19 really isn’t that bad and that the true pandemic is “panic,” not the contagious and lethal virus that has killed at least 705,000 people so far.
“The president’s absurd, unscientific, unnecessary, and unlawful vaccine mandate is now being echoed by left-wing politicians across the nation,” Pence wrote about President Joe Biden’s vaccination strategy earlier this month that requires federal employees to get vaccinated and many other workers to get vaccinated or regularly tested.
“In a country with competent leaders, all such measures — most especially the forced vaccinations for COVID-19 recently ordered by Biden — would be repealed, and Americans would be allowed to return to their normal lives,” he wrote, not explaining how the vaccine interferes with people’s normal lives. “For the radical left, this is not even about the virus, or about public health. It’s about power, control, and forcing the American people to submit.”
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In the column, Pence trots out tired anti-vaxxer talking points to downplay the risk of the virus.
Pence notes that the CDC found that 78% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 are considered overweight or obese. He did not include the fact that the CDC categorizes 74% of Americans as overweight or obese.
Nor did he mention that 93% of people hospitalized for severe COVID-19 are unvaccinated.
Pence bemoans the fact that people in the military are being required to get the COVID-19 vaccine even though they’re “mostly are young and in excellent physical condition.” He doesn’t mention that military personnel are already required to get 17 vaccines.
Nor does he mention his work to force transgender people out of the military while he bemoans how Biden would “fire thousands of our nation’s finest patriots simply for refusing a shot.”
He says that people who have already had COVID-19 have some immunity to the virus, but he doesn’t say that research has shown that people who have already had the virus have a much lower chance of getting it again if they’re vaccinated.
Last, Pence blames COVID-19 on “illegal aliens streaming across the border.” He cites the high rate of COVID-19 found in immigrants as they leave Border Patrol custody, but he doesn’t suggest doing anything about the overcrowded shelters migrants are forced to stay in.
Pence does not, in his entire column, give a single reason why anyone should refuse the vaccine, which have been shown to be safe and effective in preventing severe cases of COVID-19.
Nor does he discuss how hospitals are currently overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, so much so that people with other conditions are dying waiting for treatment.
Pence instead calls vaccine mandates “tyranny” and “state-sponsored discrimination,” even though he spent his entire career as a U.S. Congressman, governor of Indiana, and then vice president supporting discrimination against LGBTQ people.
As governor of Indiana, Pence bungled his reaction to an outbreak of HIV in a southern Indiana town, holding to his moral opposition to needle exchange programs as a county’s infection rate rose. By the time he declared a state of emergency and allowed a temporary needle-exchange program in the county, hundreds of people had already gotten HIV.
And early in his career, he suggested federal funding should be taken away from pro-LGBTQ health organizations and given to conversion therapy programs in order to fight HIV.
So perhaps his opposition to vaccine mandates, which have already proven highly effective, isn’t surprising: his approach to policy places more value on what he believes is moral behavior for individuals (being gay or transgender are immoral, refusing a vaccine that can save the lives of others is perfectly moral) than on science and public health.
Moreover, he still has political ambitions, and Republican voters are more likely to refuse the COVID-19 vaccine than Democratic voters. Even though Pence has yet to say that he believes the COVID-19 vaccines have microchips in them or turn people magnetic, his overwrought criticism of Biden’s vaccine initiatives is a strong signal to anti-vaxx voters that he supports them.