Newsom opposed vaccine mandates in 2019 and was praised by RFK Jr.

California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in July ordered health care workers and state employees to get vaccines for COVID-19 or face weekly testing, but in 2019 he told a noted anti-vaccine advocate he was opposed to such mandates.

“We are at a point in this pandemic where individuals’ choice to not get vaccinated is now impacting the rest of us in a profound, devastating, and deadly way,” Newsom said over the summer as he ordered staffers in hospitals, nursing homes, dentists’ and doctors’ offices as well as those other health care settings to comply by Aug. 23.

Newsom’s order was backed by the California Hospital Association, which said his requirements were “important and necessary steps that must be taken in this extraordinary situation.”

But in remarks to reporters during the 2019 California Democratic Party convention, Newsom appeared to strike a different chord, as noted by the San Francisco Chronicle.

“I believe in immunizations, however, I do legitimately have concerns about a bureaucrat making a decision that is very personal,” Newsom said. “That’s just something we need to pause and think about.”

“I like doctor-patient relationships. Bureaucratic relationships are more challenging for me,” Newsom added in regards to proposed legislation that would require the state’s leading health agency to approve requests for medical exemptions to immunization schedules for children. “I’m a parent. I don’t want someone that the governor appointed to make a decision for my family.”

Newsom did not say for sure whether he would veto the measure, but he did express reservations about it.

“With respect, as a father of four that goes through this on a consistent basis, that’s just something we need to pause and think about,” he said.

Newsom’s stance was lauded by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., founder of Children’s Health Defense, a noted anti-vaccine organization that has a reputation for distributing false information on the subject.

“We don’t measure character or leadership by a commander’s posture during moments of comfort, but by his willingness to stand against the tides and storms of collective opinion during eras of controversy and hysteria,” RFK Jr. wrote at the time in a Facebook post, which included a photo of him and the Democratic governor who is facing a recall election on Tuesday.

“California Gov. Gavin Newsom has just passed that test with his wise and sober opposition to a draconian proposal to forcibly vaccinate medically fragile children against the wishes of their parents and the medical advice of their physician,” he added.

“Gov. Newsom broke the spell with a few carefully chosen words of common sense to California’s Democratic Party’s Organizing Convention on June 1,” RFK continued. “He expressed his concern about giving faceless government officials (with no medical training) veto power over vaccine exemptions deemed medically necessary by a child’s doctor.

“Gavin argued that those decisions should be made between patients and doctors without government involvement,” he added.

Jon Dougherty

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