No PPP for anti-vaxxers! Ten advocacy groups tell SBA to claw back $850,000 in PPP Funding to anti-vaxxers

For immediate release: February 5, 2021

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, 207-2832

Washington, DC—Ten patient and consumer advocacy organizations are demanding that the Small Business Administration claw back nearly a million dollars worth of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) monies granted to the leading American anti-vaccine groups.   

The advocacy organizations sent a joint letter to the U.S. Small Business Administration to express their collective concerns about the fact that, according to the Washington Post, five of the most virulent anti-vaccine organizationseach of which has spread misleading information about the coronaviruswere granted more than $850,000 in loans from the federal PPP. 

“Recipients of PPP loans include organizations that engage in conspiracy theories and lies about the safety and efficacy of vaccines generally and in this current environment, have spread misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine,” stated the letter. 

Operation Warp Speed—the federal government’s program to develop, produce, and distribute enough COVID-19 vaccine doses to inoculate 300 million Americans in record time—has cost the American taxpayer roughly $12 billion so far, a number expected to grow more than two-fold at $26 billion. 

It is unfathomable and utterly counterproductive that taxpayer money was awarded to anti-vaccine groups during this national public health crisis,” the groups wrote. They called upon the Small Business Administration and the Biden Administration to investigate and rescind the loans made to the following anti-vaccination groups:   

Mercola.Com Health Resources ($335,000) 

Mercola.Com Health Resources received an astonishing $335,000 to maintain its operations during the pandemic. In December 2019, Mercola’s founder, Joseph Mercola, authored an article falsely stating that COVID-19 vaccines released via emergency authorization may cause massive side effects. In 2019, Mr. Mercola funded pervasive anti-vaccine efforts while the nation was grappling with widespread spikes of measles cases.  

Informed Consent Action Network ($166,000) 

The Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN), founded by anti-vaccine activist Del Bigtree received approximately $166,000 in PPP funding. Bigtree has attracted more than 43,000 followers via ICAN, and regularly posts about his skepticism regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, actively downplaying the severity of the pandemic. In a December 2020 interview, Bigtree falsely stated that the COVID-19 vaccines would lead to “vaccine-enhanced diseases” and could cause infertility in women, arguing that the antibodies could potentially attack a woman’s placenta, rather than the spike protein as intended. “If it starts attacking placentas, no one will be able to get pregnant. These are legitimate theoretical issues.” 

National Vaccine Information Center (Less than $150,000) 

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., head of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), took to social media in December of 2020 to call into question the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines: “We clearly have a systematic problem when government health regulators have utterly abdicated their responsibility to safeguard public health and refer safety concerns about shoddily tested, zero-liability vaccines to pharmaceutical companies.” Kennedy’s claims regarding the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines have not been validated and are irresponsible. 

Children’s Health Defense (Less than $150,000) 

NVIC’s Kennedy also founded Children’s Health Defense. His group’s misinformation campaign has contributed to widespread vaccine hesitancy around the country—primarily via social media, stirring up unfounded concerns among the population. 

Tenpenny Integrative Medical Center ($72,000) 

Tenpenny Integrative Medical Center, spearheaded by physician, Sherri Tenpenny, was awarded $72,000 in PPP loans. Tenpenny is the author of a book titled “Saying No to Vaccines: A Resource Guide for All Ages.” Additionally,  Tenpenny’s online forums promote alternative health in lieu of immunization and argue against vaccinations across an individual’s lifespan. One of Tenpenny’s pages was banned from Facebook in December for spreading misinformation. 

In the joint letter to the SBA, the advocacy organizations insist that taxpayer dollars be well spent on efforts to vaccinate 60-70 percent of Americans.

“Operation Warp Speed and other related efforts are the right investment. Funding groups with a long history of using junk science to question the safety and efficacy of vaccines is a colossal waste of taxpayer money. Any funds provided to groups that oppose the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines must be returned to the Treasury. PPP funding should not contribute to efforts aimed at undermining our national efforts to fight the SARS CoV 2 virus,” said the groups. 

The advocacy organizations signing the letter are listed below:  

Alliance for Aging Research
American Immunization Registry Association
American Medical Student Association
American Muslim Health Professionals
Families Fighting Flu
Idaho Immunization Coalition
Kimberly Coffey Foundation
Meningitis B Action Project
National Consumers League
Vaccinate Your Family 

Read the letter here.

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