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Doctor up for Idaho health board spot calls COVID-19 vaccine 'needle rape'

A screenshot of the three Ada County Commissioners on a blue background with the words "FY24 Budget Presentations"
Ada County Commissioners YouTube

Ada County Commissioners interviewed three doctors Monday to fill an open seat on a regional public health board, one of which has repeatedly spread misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Ryan Cole, an independent pathologist in Garden City, spoke at a conference in Texas late last month dismissing COVID-19 vaccines.

“I don’t even like calling it a vaccine – an investigational vaccine,” Cole said.

Someone in the crowd characterized it as a “fake vaccine.”

“A fake vaccine, OK,” Cole said. “The clot shot, needle rape, whatever you want to call it,” he said to a laughing audience.

Cole is one of three candidates for an open seat on the Central District Health board. Ada County Commissioner Ryan Davidson said he declined to renew Dr. Ted Epperly’s term last month due to his support for mask mandates.

Dr. Sky Blue, an infectious disease expert, and Dr. Stan Moss, a retired surgeon are also in the running. Both supported COVID-19 vaccines during their interviews.

After his comments about the "fake vaccine," Cole then claimed more than 11,000 people had died from the vaccine – pointing to an unverified database to which anyone can submit information.

“This is no longer good science,” he said. “This is a poisonous attack on our population and it needs to stop now.”

The CDC has reported a rare blood clot disease associated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Researchers in April found three people died from clots after getting the shot out of six cases. At the time, about 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had been administered.

The vaccine has since been associated with rare instances of a nervous system condition that can cause temporary paralysis and death. About 100 cases of Guillain-Barré Syndrome occurred out of 12.5 million Johnson & Johnson vaccinations – 95 of them serious cases and one death.

More than 300 cases of myocarditis, or heart inflammation, from the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have also been reported – mostly in young men and boys out of the 140 million people who have gotten those inoculations. Most have recovered, though some were still hospitalized as of last month.

The vast majority of health experts still recommend getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Idaho Capital Sun previously reported Cole also advocates for the off-label use of ivermectin – an anti-parasite drug – against the advice of the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization. Such treatments, he told the Capital Sun, aren’t being embraced because companies won’t make a profit on them.

During his interview Monday, Cole said he’d prioritize nutritional wellness and access to healthcare and education for everyone.

Davidson asked all three candidates how they would factor personal freedoms into their decisions if they were to be chosen.

He specifically asked Blue if it was appropriate for protesters to be arrested for not wearing masks during a CDH meeting.

“I don’t have an opinion on that and I’m not aware of the board having arresting capabilities,” Blue said.

To Davidson’s larger point, he said there needed to be a balance of regulations and personal freedoms. Where that line is, “I don’t have the answers to that,” Blue said.

“Different settings may call for different tactics to be utilized” depending on the situation or severity of an infectious outbreak.

Moss repeatedly said his role on the CDH board would focus on education and dispelling misinformation about COVID-19 and other diseases – something he said has become political.

When asked by Davidson about upholding individual liberty, Moss said he wouldn’t support a new mask mandate.

“The answer in my mind is to properly use whatever resources we have at Central District Health to educate people about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine,” Moss said.

Other commissioners questioned the men about their experience with budgeting and strategic planning, as well as their interest in other aspects the board deals with, like sewage and sexually-transmitted infections.

Commissioners will vote on the appointment Tuesday morning.

Victims of sexual assault can contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673, or find more resources here.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season.

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