Fox News is now actively evangelizing against vaccinating children for COVID-19, following an announcement from Pfizer that the company would be submitting data to regulatory agencies on its study that it said showed “a favorable safety profile and robust neutralizing antibody responses” in children ages 5 to 11.
Just to be clear, The Washington Post points out that the data must still be analyzed by unbiased experts, and the study was small enough that certain rare side effects might show up only in monitoring as the vaccine actually gets administered in greater numbers. Nevertheless, it is a hopeful sign for health care workers, as pediatric cases have increased from the delta variant — with 1.1 million cases over the past five weeks — leaving children’s hospitals and intensive care units overwhelmed in states that already had low vaccination rates.
Notably, the increase in children’s cases has affected children with no other preexisting conditions, and doctors have also worried about the potential effects of long COVID-19 in children. But that was not the message on Fox News — a network that is notorious for propagandizing against the vaccines and celebrating vaccine refusal, even as it has instituted strict vaccination and testing requirements for its own offices.
But any sense of urgency over increased pediatric hospitalizations was swept under the rug on Monday night’s edition of Fox News Primetime, with rotating host Pete Hegseth.
“Our so-called health experts have used the rise in hospitalizations, well, as their main argument for the vaccine, recently reporting that since last January, over 58,000 children were in the hospital due to the virus,” Hegseth said. “But wait a minute. A study by the CDC shows that those numbers can be vastly overcounted.”
Hegseth then distorted a study from earlier in the year, which demonstrated an increase at the time in severe cases among teenagers. “According to the study, between the months of January and March of 2021, 45% of kids hospitalized for COVID were actually admitted for something completely different and just happened to test positive — yet they count,” Hegseth said, even though the study made clear that the increase in teen COVID-19 cases was still a real trend.
In addition, that period predated the current delta surge, in which the “the rise in hospitalizations” that Hegseth dismissed has become an undeniable fact.
“You think people are up in arms right now? Wait till the government comes for their kids,” Hegseth concluded the segment. “Just wait, just wait. That's when — especially with the way in which they've handled our trust and public trust at this moment — I don't see it happening.”
Fox host Laura Ingraham, who previously insisted that vaccinating children was “a non-starter for most parents” and “disgusting,” spoke with Hoover Institution fellow Dr. Scott Atlas, a radiologist who previously advised then-President Donald Trump to let the virus spread in order to achieve “herd immunity.”
The segment also featured a chyron throughout: “Profits over kids’ safety.”
“All they did was they demonstrated that if you inject an experimental drug into a child, you will be able to measure antibodies on a blood test,” Atlas said. “That's not what vaccines are for. Vaccines are for protecting against serious illness.”
This might seem like an odd declaration — as antibody levels demonstrate resistance to the virus. Atlas reiterated, however, that a vaccine isn’t even necessary for children, and that “we shouldn't even be having this discussion.” Atlas also urged viewers to tune out any contrary information: “Kids have an extraordinarily low risk, period, and anyone who says otherwise is really not even to be listened to at this point.”
Atlas also falsely claimed “they had no control group, by the way, none,” in the Pfizer study. In fact, multiple reports on the Pfizer study show there was a placebo group.
On Tuesday’s edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Ainsley Earhardt brought on three guests who all said they would refuse to have their school-age children vaccinated.
One of the guests seemingly tied the vaccine issue to various culture-war narratives, in her decision to home-school her children: “We believe that right now there is too much happening in our education, and children are being forced to take a vaccine or wear a mask or learn about things that are not necessarily what our belief system are, and we made that decision for our family at the start of this school year.
Earhardt also baselessly questioned whether the vaccines could potentially result in long-term damage to children’s reproductive health. “I mean, I have a 5-year-old, and we’re all asking this question among our mom groups,” Earhardt said. “What do we do? Do we give — we don't know how this is going to affect them with their reproduction later on in life. And even though that hasn't been proven, it's still a concern.”
One thing has been “proven,” though: Fox News is a public menace.