Art SwannBecky Duncan MasseyBecky MasseyBill PowersBo WatsonCOVID-19 VaccineDawn WhiteEd JacksonFeaturedFerrell HaileJack JohnsonJon LundbergKen YagerPage WalleyPaul RoseRandy McNallyRepublicansRichard BriggsShane ReevesState NewsTennesseeTennessee GOPTennessee SenateTennessee StandsTodd Gardenhire

Were These 16 GOP State Senators Wrong On The Covid-19 Vaccine?

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The Tennessee Conservative [By Adelia Kirchner] –

Two and half years ago, 16 out of 27 Tennessee GOP senators signed a letter endorsing and pushing an “emergency use authorized” Covid-19 vaccine that never provided what federal and state officials were pitching at the time – immunity to the virus.

“We never want you to forget that 17 months into the big lie, 16 Republican state senators signed a letter strongly urging you to get vaccinated,” read a recent post from Tennessee Stands, reminding Tennesseans of what their representatives did just a short time ago.

“Although we have made progress, COVID-19 is not over,” reads the letter, dated July 27th, 2021. “There has been a recent spike in the number of cases, which includes the virus’s more contagious delta variant. A strong majority of these cases are among those who are not vaccinated. And virtually all of those currently hospitalized with COVID-19 have not been vaccinated.”

The letter, helmed by Sen. Ferrell Haile, was written on the premise that the Covid-19 vaccine had been found to be “safe and effective,” relying heavily on CDC data. 

Over half of Tennessee’s Senate Republican Caucus at the time, Senators Jack Johnson, Richard Briggs, Todd Gardenhire, Ken Yager, Ed Jackson, Ferrell Haile, Jon Lundberg, Becky Massey, Page Walley, Bill Powers, Shane Reeves, Paul Rose, Art Swann, Dawn White and Bo Watson as well as Lt. Gov. Randy McNally signed this statement

“If [the vaccines] had been available from the start and widely used, over 600,000 American families that are mourning the loss of a loved one, along with tens of thousands of people who are awaiting lung transplants, or trying to learn to walk again, would have avoided that heartache,” the letter reads. 

It then goes on to state that “We are well beyond the COVID-19 vaccine trial stage.”

At the time of this letter, Covid-19 vaccines had only been available in the U.S. for a total of 7 months. This begs the question, what evidence did these lawmakers have access to in order to make claims like this with integrity?

The letter backs up its claims by reminding Tennesseans that “vaccines have been saving lives for over a century” and stating that “as a result, polio and smallpox have been eradicated and measles, mumps and rubella are rare.”

In an attempt to quell “vaccine hesitancy” the letter endorsed mRNA vaccines as an effective means for gaining immunity.

The letter further asked Tennesseans to “please compare the very rare instances of side effects with the more than 600,000 deaths in the U.S. which have occurred due to COVID-19.”

Again, Covid-19 vaccines had been available for less than a year.

This letter only references adverse reactions that were officially reported during that short time frame and did not acknowledge the possibility of adverse reactions that could crop up over time due to the vaccination. It also ignored any possibility that the number of reported Covid-19 deaths might have been inaccurate.

The inflated death toll due to “deaths with Covid-19” being counted as “deaths from Covid-19” and the CDC’s eventual admittance of a coding error has since been discussed at great length.

“The facts are clear – the benefits of the vaccines far outweigh the risks,” the letter continues. “Unfortunately, efforts to get more people vaccinated have been hampered by politicization of COVID-19. This should not be political. Tennesseans need factual information to make educated decisions regarding their health.”

The letter concluded by saying, “The COVID-19 vaccines save lives. Again, we strongly urge all Tennesseans to study the facts, talk to your doctor and get vaccinated.”

Some of the same legislators who signed this letter also voted against some of the following:

SJR0993 to add a provision to the Tennessee Constitution declaring an individual’s right to refuse medical treatment and requiring that other rights not be violated due to such refusal, failed in 2022.

SB2009 to prohibit taxpayer-funded entertainment venues from requiring a Covid-19 vaccine for entry, failed in 2022.

SB1982 to prohibit governmental entities, local education agencies, schools, and private business from adopting or enforcing laws, rules, or practices that fail to recognize natural immunity as providing a level of protection that “is at least as protective as a COVID-19 vaccine,” became law in 2022.

SB2188 to authorize pharmacists to provide Ivermectin to patients 18+, became law in 2022.

SB1090 to guarantee religious and medical freedoms of Tennesseans who submitted a religious exemption for participation in society, school, or work, failed in 2023.

About the Author: Adelia Kirchner is a Tennessee resident and reporter for the Tennessee Conservative. Currently the host of Subtle Rampage Podcast, she has also worked for the South Dakota State Legislature and interned for Senator Bill Hagerty’s Office in Nashville, Tennessee. 

You can reach Adelia at

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