Politics and Government

Minnesota candidate backs move to block COVID shots for kids

Sen. Scott Jensen, R-Chaska
Then-state Sen. Scott Jensen in front of his office in January 2017. The Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidate has signed onto a lawsuit seeking to stop COVID-19 vaccinations for 12- to 15-year-olds.
Brian Bakst | MPR News 2017

Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen signed onto a lawsuit seeking to stop COVID-19 vaccinations for 12- to 15-year-olds that, among other things, compares such inoculations to Nazi experimentation on imprisoned Jews.

Jensen, a family physician from Chaska who served in the state Senate from 2017 to 2021, is the first named plaintiff in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Alabama by America’s Frontline Doctors, a group that has downplayed the pandemic and pushed misleading and false information, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Friday.

The group’s leader, Simone Gold, is among those facing charges for allegedly entering the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection that sought to halt the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory over then-President Donald Trump.

The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for everyone as young as 12 and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging parents to get their children vaccinated as soon as possible, saying it is safe and effective.

The court petition seeks to undo the vaccine's emergency use authorization for children in that age group through a temporary restraining order. It calls the vaccines “dangerous biological agents that have the potential to cause greater harm than the COVID-19 disease itself.” It also alleges a widespread collusion among national media outlets to suppress information, challenges the official death and case counts as “false,” and compares the vaccination effort to Nazi doctors convicted in the Nuremburg trials for experimenting on imprisoned Jews without their consent.

Jensen told the newspaper that he didn’t read the entire lawsuit before endorsing it. He said he's “quietly” been a member of America’s Frontline Doctors and that he signed an affidavit supporting the petition before reading it all. And he said he didn't know about Gold's involvement in the insurrection.

Jensen previously told the Star Tribune that he wants to see vaccinations aimed at children paused “so that the status quo can be maintained until we have a chance to have a broader, more robust discussion.” He said the disease is less of a threat to kids younger than 16 than for adults over age 70.

Asked about the lawsuit's claim that it is unethical to give vaccines with emergency authorization to young people, Kris Ehresmann, the state's infectious disease director, said that although the approval was expedited, all the typical safeguards were in place.

Jensen’s criticism of state and federal responses to the COVID-19 pandemic has been a major focus of his gubernatorial bid, which he launched in March.

“Scott Jensen has spent over a year pushing dangerous conspiracy theories and peddling misinformation to the detriment of Minnesotans,” Minnesota Democratic Party Chairman Ken Martin in a statement. “Now he’s joined a fringe group of right-wing doctors and January 6th insurrectionists to spread dangerous lies that will only harm public health.”

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