ST. PAUL — Scott Jensen, a prominent Minnesota Republican candidate for governor with a track record of COVID-19 theories not shared by the medical community, has signed onto an effort to stop vaccinations for 12- to 16-year-olds.
Jensen, a family physician from Chaska who served in the state Senate from 2017 to 2021, is the first named plaintiff in a petition filed in federal court in Alabama by America’s Frontline Doctors, a group that has attempted to diminish the pandemic that has killed more than 590,000 Americans and pushed misleading and false information about the coronavirus, its lethality and debunked treatments and preventions, such as the use of hydroxychloroquine.
The group’s leader, Simone Gold, was among those who entered the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection that sought to halt the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory over then-President Donald Trump, Gold has confirmed to The Washington Post. She was later arrested and faces charges of entering a restricted building or grounds, violent entry and disorderly conduct.
The Pfizer vaccine has been approved under an “emergency use authorization “for everyone as young as 12. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges: “Get a COVID-19 vaccine for your child as soon as you can. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.”
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The court petition challenges that premise and seeks to undo the emergency use authorization through a temporary restraining order. In its 80 pages, the petition calls the vaccines “dangerous biological agents that have the potential to cause greater harm than the COVID-19 disease itself.” It cites a faulty and misleading understanding of federal statistics where incidents that occur after vaccination are reported to a federal database for later analysis. Thousands upon thousands of Americans were always expected to die after being vaccinated — but not necessarily because of it, because people die every day.
The petition notes that the risk of serious illness and death is greatly less in children. It uses the phrase “statistically zero,” though children do occasionally die from COVID-19. (As of May 20, there have been 316 American children who have died from the disease, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, though that number might include youth older than 17.)
The petition, which includes several passages written in all-caps with exclamation points, alleges a widespread collusion of national media outlets to suppress information, challenges both the official COVID-19 death and case counts as “false,” and compares the nationwide vaccination effort to Nazi doctors convicted at Nuremburg for experimenting on imprisoned Jews, Poles and Russians without their consent.
But Jensen said he didn’t read all that.
In an interview with the St. Paul Pioneer Press Thursday, May 27, Jensen acknowledged he’s “quietly” been a member of America’s Frontline Doctors, and he said he signed an affidavit supporting the petition before reading it.
“When I submitted the affidavit, the petition wasn’t done,” he said. “I never saw the full petition until a week ago. I have not read the entire 80 pages. I read the first 10 pages, I think.”
Jensen has had COVID-19 and has declined to get vaccinated himself, despite CDC recommendations. He also has said he doesn’t recommend vaccination for “about a third” of his patients who are young and healthy.
“I did not know Simone was in any hot water over Jan. 6,” Jensen added.
When asked directly about the lawsuit and its claim that it is unethical to give vaccines with emergency authorization to young people, Kris Ehresmann, director of infectious disease prevention for the state Department of Health, said: “We do take very seriously vaccines that are given to children.”
Ehresmann noted that the vaccine was first approved for adults and after further research was OK’d for adolescents.
“There is a very cautious approach in how vaccine is being evaluated for use in children,” she said. “There’s the same safety expectations.”
Ehresmann added that while the approval process was expedited, all the typical safeguards were still in place. Makers of the vaccines currently with emergency authorization are now in the process of applying for more typical licensure.
“I feel very comfortable about the vaccines,” she said. “There’s been a very thoughtful process in terms of rolling out the vaccines and looking at their safety in the younger population.”
Jensen’s alignment with people like Gold puts him outside some members of his own party.
Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, who is preparing for a potential run for governor as well, sought to distance himself from Jensen’s position, when asked.
“The leader of that was arrested for being inside the Capitol, so I’m not sure that that’s the best alignment to do right now,” said Gazelka, who has had COVID-19 and later was vaccinated.
St. Paul Pioneer Press reporter Christopher Magan contributed to this report.