The Mississippi Board of Medical Licensure announced the policy, which is borrowed from a national medical board group, and posted it Sept. 9 on the board’s official state website. The policy states in part:
Physicians who generate and spread COVID-19 vaccine misinformation or disinformation are risking disciplinary action by state medical boards, including the suspension or revocation of their medical license.
Hospital deciding 'doctrine' for employees
A hospital chain in Arkansas is allowing a religious exemption for employees who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine over concerns for fetal cell research but that also means no more Pepto Bismol, too.
Conway Regional Health System expects non-jabbers on its payroll to swear off more than a dozen other medical products that are supposedly researched and produced through the same methods.
The list includes Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, aspirin, and Tums.
Conway is in the wrong, says American Family Association attorney Abraham Hamilton III, because it doesn’t have the legal authority to dictate “doctrine” in response to a religious request.
Hamilton, who is himself a pastor, says employers only have only two options: To provide an accommodation if asked or to deny it.
“They don't get to question the veracity of a religious belief,” he says. “They simply have an opportunity to evaluate its sincerity.”
Roger Gannam of Liberty Counsel says many employees are already risking their jobs by requesting a religious exemption so Conway’s behavior is akin to a “religious inquisition” for those employees.
Mississippi, known as the poorest and most unhealthy state in the Union, also ranks near the bottom when its vaccination rate of 49% is compared to other states. The mostly rural state of 2.9 million statistically leads the nation in fatalities, too, which currently is 308 per 100,000, although an analysis of state figures shows 98% of COVID patients are surviving the virus in the nation's poorest state.
The most current statistics compiled by The New York Times show 81% of Mississippians age 65-plus have received both doses.
What is missing from the lengthy medical board statement, and so far from the state board's website itself, is what is defined as “misinformation” and “disinformation.” That could arguably mean a doctor may have to answer for telling a hesitant patient that the vaccine is controversial. That benign statement is as obvious to the public at large as water is wet but doctors in The Magnolia State have now been instructed, vaguely, to watch what they say.
The warning from the medical board raised concerns with Rob Chambers, who leads Mississippi-based AFA Action, because he says it interferes with the close and private relationship between doctor and patient.
“If the doctor, for example, thinks the COVID shot is bad for the patient,” Chamber says, “then the doctor should be free to share that information, without fear of retribution, from a tyrannical licensing board.”
The vaccine is not recommended, for example, for children under age 12, per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
There is also controversy over administering the vaccine to teen boys. Liberal news outlets NPR and The New York Times have both reported on studies documenting heart inflammation, known as Myocarditis, in teens and in young adults who got the first dose of the vaccine.
There is also ongoing debate in the medical community over a third booster shot, including at the FDA where two officials quit in protest in late August.
Chambers shared a Facebook video with American Family News in which a physician in South Mississippi states that he, too, opposes a third vaccine shot.
Statistics from the Miss. Dept. of Health website show approximately 37,100 patients in Mississippi have received a third shot of Pfizer or Moderna.
Yet another controversial topic for physicians to weigh is natural immunity. Antibodies are present after a patient recovers from the virus but there is ongoing debate over how long they remain in the body, how strong they remain over time, and if they are comparable to the vaccine itself.
"I don't have a really firm answer for you on that,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to President Biden, told CNN when asked if natural immunity protects people more than the vaccine itself.
However, a study of natural immunity from Israel, released in late August, concluded that patients who recover from the virus have “longer-lasting and stronger protection” against a second bout with the virus than vaccinated patients. That study was cited by fact-checking website Politifact.
Approximately 473,400 Mississippians have recovered from COVID-19 virus, state figures show.
Despite such lingering questions, which create inevitable debate, the licensure board’s statement also tells physicians they must share information that is “factual, specifically grounded and consensus-driven for the betterment of public health.”
According to Chambers, Mississippi’s licensing medical board is taking a cue from the Biden administration because it wants to “bully people into submission."
AFA Action is a ministry of the American Family Association, which oversees American Family News and AFN.net.