TOPEKA — Sen. Mark Steffen has filed a COVID-19 resolution in the Kansas Senate declaring that children should not be vaccinated, that people who have had the virus should be exempt from all restrictions and that the government should stop meddling with doctors who unorthodox recommendations make treatments.
Steffen, a Hutchinson Republican and anesthesiologist who cares for COVID-19 patients, has condemned what he called mainstream medical and political propaganda that contributed to unnecessary fatalities during the pandemic. He is a supporter of state legislation that would strip county health directors and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment the power to impose emergency restrictions.
“We will win this vaccine battle. And we will win the liberal, communist war that is being waged against us,” Steffen said.
Its non-binding resolution, tabled on Thursday in the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare, opposed international efforts by governments and medical leaders to deepen the vaccination of populations in response to the pandemic. He brought forward the resolution at a time when the spread of COVID-19 in the United States was escalating sharply and hospitals were under pressure from the influx of critically ill patients.
“Healthy children should not be forcibly vaccinated,” Steffen’s said in the resolution. “There are negligible clinical risks of COVID-19 infection to a healthy child under the age of 18. The long-term risks to children’s health remain too great.”
Wave of 1,225 deaths
steven, who spoke at a conference in September in Lenexa committed to ending mandatory vaccinations, said children who received a COVID-19 shot “risked serious side effects, including permanent damage to the brain, heart, immune system and reproductive system.”
Since Steffen’s performance at that Freedom Revival in the Heartland event, Kansas has documented an increase of 221,904 cases of COVID-19, 4,173 additional hospitalizations for the virus and 1,246 more deaths related to COVID-19. Latest totals for Kansas: 621,273 cases, 17,624 hospitalizations, and 7,162 deaths.
Three children in Kansas under the age of 10 and three more children between the ages of 10 and 17 have died from COVID-19.
Steffen’s perspective on childhood vaccination went against the recommendations of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In early January, CDC director Rochelle Walensky said children ages 5 and older should be vaccinated and adolescents ages 12 to 17 should receive a booster shot five months after the primary series.
“It is critical that we protect our children and teens from COVID-19 infection and the complications of serious diseases,” Walensky said. “This booster dose will provide optimal protection against COVID-19 and the Omicron variant.”
Tim Williamson, a pulmonologist, critical care specialist and vice president of quality and safety at the University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City, Kansas, said on Friday record numbers of children were hospitalized with COVID-19.
“That’s a shame,” he said. “You have to be really sick to get to the hospital now. They’re really full of the sickest patients we’ve seen, I think, in my career in medicine.”
KDHE reported a pandemic record on Wednesday that 61 children with COVID-19 were hospitalized.
Amber Schmidtke, chair of the science and math division at the University of St. Mary at Leavenworth, said Kansas and Missouri lagged the national average in vaccinating people ages 5 to 18. Fifteen percent of Kansas and 13% of Missourians 5 to 11 are fully vaccinated, she said, compared with the national figure of 19%. In the 12 to 17 age group, 48% of Kansans and 41% of Missourians have been vaccinated against 54% nationally.
“We can say that COVID isn’t affecting us, but that’s about as effective as yelling at a Category 5 hurricane. This thing is ours. We need to take action,” said Schmidtke.
The New England Journal of Medicine published a new study of pediatric patients with lab-confirmed COVID-19 at 31 hospitals in 23 states between July 1 and October 25, 2021. The patients were 12 and 18 years old, and 445 in the study had COVID-19 and 777 who participated in the study did not have the virus.
Among patients with COVID-19, 180 or 40% of infected patients were placed in an intensive care unit and 29% within that group required life support. Only two of the 180 patients in the ICU were fully vaccinated. The study was conducted by the CDC and a network of pediatric hospitals.
In the Senate resolution tabled by Steffen, he said that “naturally immune” individuals, or those who have contracted and recovered from COVID-19, “should not be subject to restrictions or vaccine mandates.”
For example, Douglas County and some towns in Johnson County recently imposed mask mandates, and the administration of President Joe Biden required COVID-19 vaccination, with exceptions, from health care workers in hospitals receiving federal funding.
“Natural immunity is the best long-term solution against the development of the disease COVID-19 and its more serious consequences,” Steffen said. “People who are naturally immune have the lowest risk of virus transmission and should not be subject to travel, professional, medical or social restrictions. Natural immunity is the most effective source of herd immunity, a condition necessary to eradicate the COVID-19 virus.”
His resolution said government health agencies should be banned from interfering with doctors like himself in treating COVID-19 patients. He said insurance companies should stop blocking coverage of alternative medicines prescribed by doctors.