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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Scientists fight a new source of vaccine misinformation: Aaron Rodgers

Scientists fight a new source of vaccine misinformation: Aaron Rodgers

This spring, he “Danger!” was auditioning to be the host of. Almost every day, he appears on television commercials for national brands such as State Agricultural Insurance. And on Sunday this fall, he led the Green Bay Packers to a division-best 7-2 record.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is not only the NFL’s most valuable player, he’s also a celebrity surpassing the nation’s most popular sport, a household name similar to Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes.

So when news broke that he had tested positive for the coronavirus last week and had not been vaccinated, Rodgers made his decision not to get vaccinated by speaking out against highly effective vaccines and spewing a stream of misinformation and junk science. Justified it. Medical professionals were frustrated not only because it would make it difficult for them to persuade adults to get vaccinated, but also because they were starting to vaccinate children between the ages of 5 and 11.

“When you’re a celebrity, you’re given a platform,” said Dr. Paul A., director of the Center for Vaccine Education at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Offit said. “When you choose to do what Aaron Rodgers is doing, which is to use the platform to put out misinformation that can lead to people making bad decisions for themselves or their children, you’ve done harm.”

The NFL is investigating whether Rodgers and the Packers violated any of the league’s detailed COVID-19 protocols, which were developed with the NFL Players Association. Rodgers admits to violating protocol that involves attending a Halloween party with teammates he appeared in the expose video. The Packers & Rodgers can be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for failing to comply with the rules.

Rodgers is in the middle of a 10-day isolation period and did not play in the Packers’ 13-7 loss to Kansas City on Sunday. Like all non-vaccinated NFL players who test positive, Rodgers must provide two negative tests, 24 hours apart, to return to the field after his isolation, which could come as soon as Saturday.

However, permanent damage from Rodgers’ stance cannot be measured in dollars or games lost or won. Vaccination rates in the NFL are much higher than in the general population. According to the league, nearly every coach and staff member who is around players is vaccinated, and out of 2,000 or more players, 94 percent have also been vaccinated.

But given how popular the league is, even a handful of unvaccinated players deserve attention. Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley, and quarterbacks Kirk Cousins ​​of the Minnesota Vikings and Carson Wentz of the Indianapolis Colts have all been criticized for being unvaccinated.

But he was vocal about his decisions. Rodgers, in contrast, avoided giving a direct answer when asked whether he had been vaccinated. He said he was immunized and pointed his fingers in the air to indicate the quotation marks around the word “immunized”, a suggestion he was trying to be ironic.

In an interview on The Pat McAfee Show last week, Rodgers said he followed his “vaccination protocol,” although he did not give details about it. But vaccination and natural infection are the only ways to gain immunity to the virus, the scientists said.

In interviews, Rodgers further escalated the controversy by trying to distance himself from conspiracy theorists. “I’m not, you know, some kind of anti-vax, flat-earth,” he said. “I am a person who is a critical thinker.”

But many of his statements on the show echo statements made by people in the anti-vaccine movement.

“Aaron Rodgers is a smart guy,” said David O’Connor, a virologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Packers fan. But, he added, “he is still vulnerable to the onslaught of the blind side of misinformation.”

In interviews, Rodgers suggested that the fact that people were still getting, and dying from, COVID-19 meant that the vaccines were not highly effective.

Although imperfect, vaccines provide extremely strong protection against the worst outcomes of infection, including hospitalization and death. Unvaccinated Americans are nearly 10 times more likely to be hospitalized and 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“As far as hospital stays with Covid, they are unvaccinated people,” said Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Organization at the University of Saskatchewan. “And transmission to other non-vaccinated people is being driven heavily by non-vaccinated people.”

Rodgers also expressed concern that vaccines could cause fertility issues, a common practice in the anti-vaccine movement. There is no evidence that vaccines affect fertility in men or women.

“These allegations have been made since vaccines first appeared, and they have been explicitly addressed many, many times,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a vaccine specialist at Vanderbilt University. “The vaccines are safe and surprisingly effective,” he said.

There are some potentially serious adverse events that have been associated with vaccines, including clotting disorders and inflammation of the heart muscle, but they are very rare. Experts agree that the health risks associated with COVID-19 are far greater than vaccination.

Rodgers said he rejected the mRNA vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna because he was allergic to an unspecified ingredient.

Such an allergy is possible—very few people are allergic to polyethylene glycol, which is in Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines—but is extremely rare. For example, according to one CDC study, there were about 11 cases of anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction, for every million doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

The Public Health Agency recommends that people with a known allergy to one of the components of mRNA vaccines not receive those vaccines, but some scientists doubted that Rodgers actually had a known, documented allergy. Even if he did, he could be eligible for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which relies on a different technology.

Rodgers also took aim at the NFL, almost daring the league to fix him. For example, he claimed that the league had sent a “puppet” to the Packers’ training camp to “embarrass” players to be vaccinated. He said that he did not follow certain protocols, such as wearing a mask while talking to journalists, as he did not agree with them.

Like many star athletes, Rodgers has worked hard to shape his story. But it may come at a cost, as evidenced by the backlash on his comments.

“The challenge for players is now it’s so easy for them to go on a podcast and tweet,” said Brad Shearer, an attorney who advises NFL players on technology and social media. “I tell the players to stick to the script, keep notes, and when you get a tough question, take it off. His interview was like a car accident that got worse and worse.”

Although the league has no deadline to end its investigation, the blow is swift. Previa Health, a primary care provider in Wisconsin, end your partnership The day after his interview with Rodgers went public. State Farm, which has hired Rodgers as spokesperson over the years, Said it does not support some of Rodgers’ statements is created (without specifying), but it respects “everyone’s right to choose”.

On Sunday, only 1.5 percent of all televised State Farm commercials featured Rodgers, up from about 25 percent in the previous two Sundays, according to data collected by Apex Marketing, which monitors and tracks national media and branding.

Television commentators, including Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw, also called out Rodgers for potentially endangering his teammates and not being honest. Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar went a step further. “Aaron Rodgers didn’t just lie, he also hurt professional sports,” he has written.

Rogers is no stranger to controversy. Through his 17 years in the NFL, he has built up an image as a contrarian on many issues. In late April, ESPN reported that Rodgers was so “dissatisfied” with the Packers that he told team members that he did not want to return to Green Bay. The team’s general manager, Brian Gutkunst, who was busy preparing for the draft, had to state publicly that Rodgers would not be traded.

Rodgers also used his knack for disrupting calculations in 2020, when he tried to persuade other players to vote against a proposed Labor deal because it had a way to add a 17th game to the regular season. (The players narrowly approved of the agreement.)

Rodgers has made news not just because he is an elite quarterback, but because he is an elite quarterback in the most popular sports league in the country. Every issue is magnified when the NFL is involved, be it bullying, domestic violence, protests during the national anthem, and other issues. That’s why Rogers’ stance on the vaccine has caused so much concern among scientists.

Dr. O’Connor said that he “cringed” when he heard that Rodgers had not been vaccinated, especially considering how many people in Wisconsin have yet to receive their shots; 63 percent of the state’s residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared to the national rate of 67 percent.

“There is still a lot of work to do to improve vaccines within the community in which he plays,” he said.

The timing is especially unfortunate, as the vaccination campaign for young children is underway, Dr. Schaffner said.

“He is such a highly regarded and highly acclaimed sports person,” he said of Rodgers. “We want explicit role modeling out there to get a vaccine, and we certainly don’t want role modeling of spurious behavior.”

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