A group of New Hampshire doctors wants two Republican U.S. Senate candidates to walk back recent statements opposing mandatory vaccinations.
The letter’s signers include two pediatricians and three surgeons, one of whom is also a Democratic state representative.
They wrote Wednesday to retired Gen. Don Bolduc and businessman Corky Messner, who are running to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.
Bolduc and Messner have said in recent online forums that they don’t believe in mandatory vaccinations. The candidates also raised concerns about risk disclosure for any eventual COVID-19 vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control says vaccines are a safe, regulated and necessary way to protect public health, especially for "those that are most vulnerable to illness." Those populations include many of those most at risk from COVID-19.
In their letter, the group of doctors calls Bolduc and Messner's comments “fear-mongering” and “propaganda” that could decrease the use of a hypothetical coronavirus vaccine, endangering high-risk people in New Hampshire and extending economic impacts.
“To suggest that health experts are using vaccines to do anything other than cure and prevent disease is incredibly irresponsible,” the doctors write in their letter. “Uninformed opposition to vaccines is dangerous at any time, but especially as we confront the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Bolduc said in a statement to NHPR that he is “not opposed to vaccinations,” but is opposed to “increasing reliance on government to tell us what’s best for us.”
“Where there is risk, there must be choice,” Bolduc said. “We need to inform and educate parents about the benefits, and if warranted, the side effects of any medication. This is about empowering people to make good decisions.”
Michael Biundo, a senior campaign advisor for Messner, told NHPR in a statement that his candidate “believes the government has an important role to play in public health, and that vaccines have played a vital role in protecting the common good,” but that they must be accompanied by “full disclosure and transparency.”
Messner "believes that parents and individuals need to be able to make informed decisions, but that those decisions need to be mindful of public health,” Biundo said. “He also doesn't think it is unreasonable for certain restrictions to be put on public school attendance for instance if someone chooses to ignore the public health ramifications.”
Groups that oppose mandatory vaccinations have, in recent weeks, backed protests in New Hampshire and elsewhere opposing face mask requirements and calling for states to reopen their economies.