At a glance:

  • On June 28, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) teamed up with former Green Bay Packer, Ken Ruettgers, to hold a news conference.
  • Johnson, who is a supporter of vaccines, was joined by five participants who had suffered serious reactions to COVID vaccines. The participants indicated they had felt alone and unheard by the medical community.
  • Johnson and Ruettgers hosted the news conference to support those who have suffered severe vaccine reactions, stating, “They want to be heard, they want to be seen, they want to be believed.”

On June 28, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) teamed up with former Green Bay Packer, Ken Ruettgers, to hold a news conference. The event was held in a federal courthouse in Milwaukee to discuss adverse reactions to COVID vaccines. Johnson’s website has a recording with the title: People Who Want to Be Seen, Heard and Believed by the Medical Community. 

Johnson, who is a supporter of vaccines, was joined by five participants who had suffered serious reactions to COVID vaccines. The participants indicated they had felt alone and unheard by the medical community. One 12 year old participant, Maddie, had volunteered in the trials and was joined by her mother. Maddie, who had been healthy before the vaccine, has been hospitalized three times over two months and is now confined to a wheelchair.

Throughout the testimonies, the participants urged further investigations into side effects. They are unable to find answers or help to regain their health and have racked up thousands of dollars in medical bills. Many of the reactions discussed were neurological in nature with few indicating cardiac concerns that have been reported recently. The FDA has recently added a warning for the cardiac concern, myocarditis, that has been gaining attention.

Responses to Senator Johnson’s Event

Johnson began the event indicating he was definitely pro-vaccine. He is up to date on all of his vaccines and has had the flu shot every year since the Swine Flu outbreak. He has also been a supporter of Operation Warp Speed which brought the COVID vaccine rollouts so quickly. Johnson has confirmed he is unvaccinated for COVID-19 because he has already recovered from the disease and has natural immunity.

Milwaukee Health Commissioner, Kirsten Johnson, accused Senator Johnson of using “his platform today to raise misleading concerns regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.”¹ Johnson also faced backlash from medical experts claiming he was spreading untrue, anti-vax rhetoric. Wisconsin’s Governor, Tony Evers, also voiced disapproval. 

Evers said in a tweet:

@SenRonJohnson, you’re being reckless and irresponsible. The #COVID19 vaccine is safe and effective and based on years of science and research. Every time you suggest otherwise, you’re jeopardizing the health and safety of the people of our state and our economic recovery.²

Giving Others a Voice

In response to being called reckless and irresponsible, Senator Johnson replied, “I think it’s called compassion. I think it’s showing concern for your fellow human beings who have stepped up.” He wanted to provide a platform for this small minority of people who weren’t being heard.

Former Green Bay Packer Ken Ruettger’s wife, Sheryl, was affected by the vaccine. Sheryl has now been diagnosed with vaccine induced autoimmune neuropathy and multiple sclerosis.  Ruettgers organized the speakers and paid for hotels for those who traveled to Milwaukee to share their stories. “They want to be heard, they want to be seen, they want to be believed,” he said.³ 

You can read more about COVID vaccine reactions and some of the participants on a website developed to raise awareness. For more information on adverse reactions reported to the CDC, follow the VAERS website.

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