Clark County health leaders push back against anti-vax billboard

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Health commissioner: “We just want them to make that choice depending on real data and real science.”

Clark County health leaders are refuting a billboard along Upper Valley Pike in Springfield they said falsely claims COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility, sudden death and fatal health conditions.

The Clark County Combined Health District has received numerous calls that began earlier this month about the billboard, which tells passersby that “Covid Shots Kill.”

“Anybody can say anything, but this is not even close to being factually correct,” said Clark County health commissioner Charles Patterson.

It’s unclear who is behind the billboard. The advertisement states that it was paid for by a “Citizen for Vaccine Choice.” This entity is not registered as a company with the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office, nor is it registered as a nonprofit organization through the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

Patterson said the health district supports people’s choice to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“We just want them to make that choice depending on real data and real science,” he said.

Patterson said the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective.

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Reports of adverse reactions to the vaccine are rare. The Centers for Disease Control reported that cases of anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction, occurred at a rate of approximately five cases per one million administered.

Similarly, myocarditis, which causes inflammation of heart muscles, were reported at a rate of between 52.4 to 56.3 cases per one million vaccine doses among men aged 18-24 who received the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines.

Reports of thrombosis, which causes blood clots, were typically linked with the one-dose Janssen vaccine from Johnson and Johnson and occurred at a rate of four cases per one million vaccines administered, according to the CDC.

COVID-19 vaccination is heavily monitored, Patterson said, and safeguards are in place to assure its safety and efficacy.

In spring of 2021 after six reports of people experiencing blood clotting after receiving the Janssen vaccine were made in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the CDC advised a pause in distribution for that vaccine.

No peer-reviewed study points to the vaccine’s impact on fertility, Patterson said. Rather, COVID-19 infection poses a greater risk of severe illness to pregnant people.

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Patterson said no deaths related to the COVID-19 vaccine have been reported in Clark County, nor for the entire state of Ohio.

Nationally, the CDC has reported a total of nine deaths causally related with the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. More than 672 million COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed nationwide since December 2020.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, more than 40,000 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported throughout the state. Since the pandemic’s start three years ago, more than 600 COVID-19 deaths have been reported in Clark County.

Vaccine hesitancy overall has seen growth throughout the pandemic, Patterson said.

Hesitancy regarding the COVID-19 vaccine rollout coincided with an increasing number of parents filing moral or religious exemptions to their children entering kindergarten with established, required vaccines against diseases like measles and polio, a Dayton Daily News investigation found.

At 14 elementary schools in the region, at least 10% of kindergarteners’ parents or guardians opted them out of getting required vaccines due to religious or moral objections during the 2021-2022 school year, according to data from the Ohio Department of Health.

“Our focus is on preventing these things from happening,” Patterson said. “And we want people to have the best information available.”

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