‘They chose to live that lifestyle’: GOP Utah County clerk candidate says tax dollars shouldn’t be spent on monkeypox vaccine.

Republican county clerk nominee Aaron Davidson also told Utah County commissioners that the coronavirus vaccine was killing young athletes, which has been disproven.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Aaron Davidson holds a sign inviting others to hug him at an April 2020 protest about coronavirus restrictions. Davidson has since cited misinformation about vaccines while speaking against monkeypox.

Aaron Davidson, the Republican nominee for Utah County clerk, suggested that the county should not be spending tax dollars on the monkeypox vaccine because it would benefit gay men.

He also falsely claimed that the coronavirus vaccine was killing young athletes and suggested those who take the monkeypox vaccine were human subjects of a biomedical experiment.

The GOP candidate made those comments during the Sept. 14 Utah County Commission hearing on federal regulations surrounding the availability and distribution of the monkeypox vaccine. The county gets the vaccines free from the federal government, and they must waive any administration charges that typically accompany other vaccines.

During the public comment period of the mid-September meeting, Davidson urged commissioners to reject the agreement.

“This is not an approved FDA drug, just like the COVID vaccine that we saw so many adverse side effects. The pericarditis, the myocarditis, all the kids that died from it. Young, sports athletes that are dying from it,” Davidson alleged.

Davidson was citing a debunked claim that athletes across the globe were dying because of side effects from the coronavirus vaccine. According to fact-checkers from The Poynter Institute, there are no proof athletes are collapsing from heart issues because of the vaccines.

Davidson also claimed the monkeypox vaccine had not been approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration and that those who took the vaccine were “human subjects of a biomedical experiment.”

“There could be more deaths from it. This is an unapproved vaccine, and I don’t think any funds from the county should be used toward this effort,” Davidson told the council.

Nancy Flake, director of immunizations for the Utah County Health Department, quickly corrected Davidson, saying the JYNNEOS vaccine was approved in 2019 and given emergency authorization for monkeypox earlier this year.

“We can’t give anything out that isn’t FDA approved,” Flake said.

Davidson also objected to using public funds on a program that he feels primarily benefits the “MSM,” or men who have sex with men, community.

“They chose to live that lifestyle, and if something happens to them, I think that should come out of their own pocket through their own medical providers. It should not come from the county offices and taxpayer money,” Davidson said.

“We get the vaccine free from the federal government,” Flake countered. “It’s delivered from the state to us, and we just waive any kind of administrative charges. It’s completely free to the recipients.”

The vast majority of reported monkeypox cases have been among men who have sex with men, but framing it as exclusively impacting that population is misleading. The Utah County Health Department’s website says the limited supply of monkeypox vaccine should be reserved for those who have had “close intimate contact” with someone who has the virus or for men who have sex with men.

When the commission revisited the issue during the Sept. 28 meeting, Davidson again brought up vaccine misinformation during the public comment period. He claimed the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) showed more than 70 adverse reactions to the monkeypox vaccine in Utah.

“I don’t know if the health department has really investigated how they should be implementing this procedure,” Davidson said.

The VAERS database is a “passive reporting system” that allows anyone to submit reports of vaccine side effects with very few guards against filing false information. Last year, the VAERS database claimed more than 1,300 deaths due to the coronavirus vaccine, with side effects ranging from brain death to a gunshot wound. The CDC has warned users the VAERS data is inaccurate. Anti-vaccine activists have used the database to scare the public, according to Science.org.

The commission ultimately voted to approve the arrangement with the CDC for the monkeypox vaccine.

Davidson is the only major party candidate for Clerk on November’s ballot. His opponent is Independent American nominee Jake Oaks, who has said he will not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if he is elected. Candace Jacobson has filed as a write-in candidate.

Davidson did not respond to requests for an interview or comment.