Misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines meant Carlsbad’s local hospital continued to work to reassure the community about its safety and effectiveness, said Melissa Suggs, spokesperson for Carlsbad Medical Center.
“We know the vaccine is safe, and the hesitation behind the vaccine is one of the difficulties we experience as healthcare providers—the severe illness and deaths are unnecessary and could likely have been prevented by taking a vaccine,” Suggs said.
The question of COVID-19 misinformation came to the forefront in Carlsbad during a recent local demonstration.
Supporters of Unmask NM Kids gathered on July 31 in Carlsbad outside the Eddy County Courthouse as part of a statewide protest.
Participants held signs that read “no mask, no vaccine,” as some passersby honked in support.
Members of the group said its goal was to advocate for freedom of choice in whether to use a face mask. On July 27 the New Mexico Public Education Department released new guidelines for schools requiring elementary schools and the unvaccinated to wear masks indoors.
The following day the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended everyone wear a mask in public spaces regardless of vaccination status.
Artesia mother, Unmask NM Kids member and Support Artesia organizer Stacey Turner pointed to SupportArtesia.com as a source of coronavirus and vaccine information.
The website links to articles and viral videos made by medical professionals which were largely discredited.
The website cited Dermatologist Dr. Ryan Cole, who was the subject various fact checks for saying mRNA vaccines cause cancer according to FactCheck.org, a Project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, and Chief Executive Officer of CatalystMD Dr. Jim Meehan, who was disqualified from testifying as an expert witness on masks by a Connecticut court.
Both Cole and Meehan promoted ivermectin, a drug used to treat parasites in animals, as a cure for COVID-19.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ivermectin was not approved to treat coronavirus and Merck, a manufacturer for the drug, said there is no “no scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against COVID-19.”
Cole claimed that some COVID-19 vaccines could cause cancer or autoimmune diseases and said public health officials should encourage people to take Vitamin D supplements rather than wear masks and social distance according to FactCheck.org.