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Multiple organizations that pushed for COVID-19 vaccine mandates received funding from Pfizer, according to financial disclosures.
The Chicago Urban League President Karen Freeman-Wilson said in August 2021 that the benefits of mandates “far outweighs” concerns about them. She did not mention that her organization was on the receiving end of a $100,000 grant for a “vaccine safety and effectiveness campaign,” according to a Pfizer disclosure.
That same month, the National Consumers League said it supported mandates imposed by governments and employers.
“In recent weeks, it has become evident that employer mandates are effective at nudging reluctant people to get the COVID-19 vaccine,” the group said in a statement.
The league received $75,000 from Pfizer in the third quarter of 2021 for “vaccine policy efforts.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics drew more than $250,000 from Pfizer in 2021, the bulk coming before the organization announced support for COVID-19 vaccine mandates for health care workers. The group claimed mandates would curb COVID-19 transmission and cases.
The American Pharmacists Association, American College of Preventive Medicine, Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, American Society for Clinical Pathology, and the American College of Emergency Physicians also received grants from Pfizer before signing a letter that urged the Biden administration to impose COVID-19 vaccine mandates on private employers with 100 or more workers.
Journalist Lee Fang first reported on groups supporting mandates receiving money from Pfizer.
Other groups received money from Pfizer, which makes the most-used COVID-19 vaccines in the United States, after championing vaccine mandates.
Months after the American Academy of Family Physicians called for health care worker mandates, Pfizer granted it $249,000 for a “collaborative consumer vaccine awareness and educational campaign.”
The American Osteopathic Association received $150,000 for “primary care physicians addressing COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy” in late 2021, after signing on to the call for health care worker vaccination requirements.
The National Hispanic Medical Association received $30,000 in 2021 from the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, which lobbies for vaccine makers like Pfizer, according to an IRS filing. The organization signed onto a joint statement calling for COVID-19 vaccine requirements for health care personnel.
Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, director of the Bioethics and American Democracy Program at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, told Fang that “pharmaceutical companies spend very large portions of their budgets on marketing, including on various health care organizations and third parties, and they do that because they get a return on that investment.”
Pfizer and the groups the company funded that also expressed support for mandates did not respond to requests for comment.
Pfizer also gave grants to institutions that imposed their own COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
New York University, for instance, received $20,000 from Pfizer for “countering misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine” before the school required vaccination for students and staff members. The Mayo Clinic also imposed a mandate after receiving more than $200,000 from Pfizer.
Other groups did not explicitly express support for mandates but offered misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines.
The Alliance for Aging Research, which received $150,000 for COVID-19 vaccine campaigns, said that the messenger RNA injected into the body with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines “only survives for a few hours in the body,” which is not true.
The 100 Black Men of America group, which received $100,000 for “vaccine engagement,” said that people who received the vaccines “will not need boosters,” just months before U.S. officials authorized boosters because of waning effectiveness.
And the National Hispanic Council on Aging, which received $100,000 for the “Let’s Get Vaccinated Policy and Awareness Campaign,” said that “by getting the COVID-19 vaccine, you protect your health and the health of your loved ones,” even though the vaccines don’t prevent transmission.
Nearly all of the mandates will have been rescinded as of May 12, with President Joe Biden’s administration ending most of the remaining requirements as it lets the COVID-19 public health emergency expire. Several agencies, though, are keeping mandates in place for now.