In a recent email to some parents and members of the Cobb Schools community, Cobb school board Vice Chairman David Banks encourages constituents to read falsehoods, including that COVID vaccines have killed more than 122,000 Americans, that the COVID-19 disease was “patented” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and that health officials banned treatments for COVID-19.
The email obtained by the Journal contains one line of text from Banks: “Please read.” The body of the email appears to be written by a man named Emery Leonard, as does an attached Microsoft Word document likewise filled with pages of vaccine and COVID-19 conspiracy theories and misinformation.
The single paragraph of text in the body of the email claims the number of deaths “resulting directly from Covid shots in the US alone are at a minimum of 122,592,” and falsely cites the CDC with the data. It also claims permanent injury or disability has come to thousands more people from the vaccines and encourages people not to take the COVID vaccines, a recommendation which lies in direct contrast with those of every major public health agency.
Meanwhile, a brief visit to the CDC’s website shows reports of death after COVID-19 vaccination are rare and that the vaccines are safe and effective.
“More than 390 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from December 14, 2020, through September 27, 2021,” a page on the CDC website reads. “During this time, (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) received 8,164 reports of death (0.0021%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine.”
The agency also says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires healthcare providers to report any death after COVID-19 vaccination to the VAERS tool, even if it’s unclear whether the vaccine was the cause. That means reports of adverse events to VAERS following vaccination, including deaths, do not necessarily mean that a vaccine caused a health problem, the CDC says.
The CDC also lists the rarity of some of the possible adverse effects after vaccination, including anaphylaxis (two to five people per million vaccinated in the U.S.); a rare form of blood clot linked to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine (47 confirmed reports out of 14.8 million doses administered by Sept. 22); and heart inflammation (892 confirmed reports out of millions of Pfizer and Moderna doses administered).
While Banks did not respond to multiple requests for comment, district spokeswoman Nan Kiel provided an emailed statement on the matter:
“Like any Cobb citizen, the comments of any individual board member should not be understood as official Board policy or positions of the Board as a whole. The District encourages the community to continue referring to official district communication channels.”
Nancy Nydam, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Public Health, referred the MDJ to Cobb-Douglas Public Health for comment on the claims made in Banks’ email.
CDPH spokeswoman Valerie Crow said the agency acknowledged COVID-19 misinformation is “an on-going obstacle to beating this pandemic,” and said global internet access, panic about the disease and the “politicization of various solutions,” has made it difficult for residents to filter accurate medical information from misinformation.
Crow said over the past 18 months, CDPH Director Dr. Janet Memark and other agency leadership have spoken frequently to the community to address COVID-19-related questions and address any misinformation that may be circulating.
“(Through) numerous county commissioner meetings, bi-weekly PSAs, the CDPH website, the CDPH bi-weekly newsletter, and social media posts and traditional media, CDPH and our numerous medical partners have worked tirelessly to be a trusted local source of information,” Crow said in her emailed statement. “We continue to ask our community members to speak to their trusted MEDICAL professionals and fact check all information by visiting the CDC, Wellstar, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Kaiser Permanente, the American Medical Association, The American Association of Pediatrics, and the FDA to get the best guidance for their families.”