Right-wing host Tucker Carlson used his prime-time Fox News show Thursday night to sow distrust in the coronavirus vaccine, adding fuel to a growing anti-vax movement as the pandemic continues to kill thousands of Americans each day.
The controversy-loving anchor cited an Alaska woman’s allergic reaction to the Pfizer vaccine to attack the scientific community, government leaders, social media companies and celebrities for promoting the long-awaited shots.
He then described the efforts to educate the public on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine as “glitzy” and “too slick.”
“So, how are the rest of us supposed to respond to a marketing campaign like this? Well, nervously,” Carlson told his huge audience. “Even if you’re strongly supportive of vaccines, and we are, even if you recognize how many millions of lives have been saved over the past 50 years by vaccines, and we do, it all seems a bit much. It feels false, because it is. It’s too slick.”
The Alaska health worker who suffered a severe allergic reaction to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine this week was treated and is recovering, state health officials said. The woman, who did not have a history of allergic reactions, apparently felt flushed and short of breath just minutes after getting the jab Tuesday.
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A few people in the U.K. had similar symptoms after being vaccinated last week, a small fraction of the thousands of people who have already received a shot this month.
Experts had warned doctors to be on the lookout for potentially serious reactions, noting that Pfizer’s trial did not include people with a history of allergies.
“Once you decide to dispense the vaccine widely, you’re talking about millions and tens of millions and ultimately hundreds of millions of doses,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN this week. “So you may see reactions that you didn’t see in the clinical trial.”
The Food and Drug Administration has also said that there is “a remote chance” that the vaccine developed by Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech could cause severe allergic reactions. The agency urged patients to tell their doctors if they have any medical conditions prior to getting a shot.
Carlson’s anti-vaccine rant also appeared to suggest that the government is forcing people to get inoculated.
“‘In this country, we control our own bodies,’ they’re always telling us that,” he said. “But no. Suddenly the rules have changed. On the question of the corona vaccine, our leaders are definitely not pro-choice.”
The vaccine is not mandatory and President-elect Joe Biden has said he would not make it so.