SANTA MONICA, Calif.—A coalition of groups including medical professionals, first responders, parents, and students gathered in Santa Monica on Aug. 21 to protest an impending COVID-19 vaccine mandate in Los Angeles, saying it will segregate the city, breed more hate, and violate the rights of tens of thousands of people.
The crowd, estimated by one organizer to be about 1,000 people, at Tongva Park on Ocean Avenue was organized to push back against a motion passed by the Los Angeles City Council on Aug. 11 directing the city attorney to prepare an ordinance requiring people to show proof of at least partial vaccination against COVID-19 to enter most public indoor spaces in the city, including restaurants, bars, gyms, concert venues, movie theaters, and even “retail establishments.”
The S.O.S California No Vaccine Passport Rally was organized by the California chapter of Children’s Health Defense, California Parents United, Latinos for Medical Freedom, Central Coast Health Coalition, Advocates for Physicians Rights, America’s Frontline Doctors, Vaccine Injury Awareness League, Freedom of Religion–United Solutions, Protection of the Educational Rights of Kids, Freedom Angels, UtahRevival.com, Mama Bears Radio, and Million Mamas Movement.
Scheduled speakers included human rights lawyer Leigh Dundes, founder of America’s Frontline Doctors Dr. Simone Gold, media personality Will Witt, Los Angeles college student Noelle Fitchett, and Carlsbad chiropractor Cordie Williams.
Other slated speakers included a local firefighter, a first responder, a nurse, a teacher, parents, a local Latino community leader, and others who say they are being threatened with job loss across the state if they do not comply.
The groups objected to the vaccine mandate on several grounds:
- They say it will not address the problem of the COVID-19 outbreak, since those who get the vaccine can still get sick and transmit the virus. The groups further state that mandates don’t take into account the natural immunity of those who have already had the virus, and would “force people who are already immune to COVID-19 to take the shot.”
- They say it violates medical privacy by making private medical matters public and violates medical ethics.
- They say it will create a “two-tiered society”; foster segregation because those who are not vaccinated will not be allowed to participate in society; and create more hate in Los Angeles.
- They worry that it could be a “pre-cursor to a digital infrastructure that not only controls entrance into indoor spaces, but controls education, employment, travel, finances, and potentially all movement or interaction in society.”
- They’re concerned that once a mandate is enacted, officials will continue to require more and more “booster shots” of the vaccine. (Federal officials recently recommended that all vaccinated people receive a third shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine to boost their immunity.)
- They say it will hurt small-business owners when their customers are no longer allowed in stores.
Denise Young, executive director of the California chapter of Children’s Health Defense, told City News Service that opponents of vaccine mandates “hold a fundamental belief that people have a right to be sovereign over their bodies.”
“We should be able to control what goes into our bodies, whether it’s a drug, a vaccine, or the food we eat,” Young said.
Asked what she would say to proponents of the mandate who don’t want to be exposed to unvaccinated people in the workplace or in public spaces, Young said they shouldn’t be worried.
“If their belief is that the vaccine works, then they are protected,” she said.
Tracy Henderson, founder of California Parents United and legal director for Utah Parents United, says the decision to take the vaccine should be a personal choice, and she worries that forcing children to wear masks can also have harmful effects on their health.
“I think it amounts to child abuse,” she told CNS.
Henderson says the government shouldn’t be telling people how to take care of their health in the first place, and she questions why the FDA hasn’t pulled the vaccines from use already due to concerns over possible side effects.
“Products have been taken off the market for 25 deaths … why is the FDA approving something with this many deaths?” she told CNS.
“The cure is worse than the disease.”
According to the CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, reports of death after COVID-19 vaccination are rare.
“More than 357 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from Dec. 14, 2020, through Aug. 16, 2021. During this time, VAERS received 6,789 reports of death (0.0019%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine. … Reports of adverse events to VAERS following vaccination, including deaths, do not necessarily mean that a vaccine caused a health problem,” the CDC said.
“A review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records, has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines. However, recent reports indicate a plausible causal relationship between the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine and TTS, a rare and serious adverse event (blood clots with low platelets) which has caused deaths.”
Henderson suspects the numbers of adverse health reactions and deaths are higher than reported.
But the main issue for her and others planning the rally is freedom: She says vaccines and mask-wearing should be left to personal choice.
“Wash your hands. If you feel sick, stay home. Respect others,” she said. “I respect you if you want to go the route of the vaccine. Just don’t make me do it.”
Federal, state, and Los Angeles County health officials have insisted since the vaccines were first approved for emergency use that they are safe and effective. Although vaccinated people can still catch and spread COVID-19, officials say the vaccines reduce that likelihood. More importantly, they say, they greatly reduce the chances that a person who does get the virus will develop symptoms that might require hospitalization or even result in death.
As of Aug. 15, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported that out of the nearly 10.3 million residents in the county—including those who are not yet eligible for the vaccine—63 percent had received at least one dose, and 55 percent were fully vaccinated. The department says that among the more than 5.1 million fully vaccinated people in L.A. County, officials have identified 27,331 fully vaccinated people who tested positive for COVID-19.
The department also says 0.014 percent of all fully vaccinated people in the county end up hospitalized, with deaths in that group numbering 68 people, or 0.0013 percent.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December 2020, and the agency approved the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for emergency use in February 2021.
The New York Times reported on Aug. 21 that the FDA is pushing to grant full approval to the Pfizer vaccine as early as Aug. 23.
The Los Angeles council voted 13–0 to have the ordinance drawn up. It would be one of the more strict mandates in the nation, going further than a similar ordinance recently enacted in New York that requires vaccination to enter many public spaces but omits retail establishments.
Councilman John Lee, who missed the vote because he was exposed to COVID-19, said later that he will not support it, meaning it will not pass on its first consideration and approval will be delayed an additional week.
The ordinance needs unanimous approval to be passed on its first consideration, but requires only a majority on its second consideration.
The council also recently approved an ordinance that requires Los Angeles city employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by early October, unless they are granted an exemption for medical or religious reasons.