Arkansas GOP governor who is holding town halls to urge vaccinations said people he meets have called the shot a ‘bioweapon’ and talked about ‘mind control’

  • Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is combatting misinformation and “myths” about the COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Hutchinson is traveling around the state to encourage residents to get vaccinated.
  • Arkansas has one of the lowest vaccinations rates and is also seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases. 

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he is working against misinformation as he travels around the state urging residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Hutchinson, a Republican, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” Sunday that resistance to the vaccine has “hardened in certain elements” due to “false information” and “myths.”

“As I go into these town hall meetings someone said, ‘Don’t call it a vaccine, call it a bioweapon.’ And they talk about mind control,” Hutchinson said. “Well those are obviously erroneous. Other members of the community correct that.”

Read more: Don’t punish the vaccinated — make it harder to choose to be unvaccinated

Misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccines have spread online throughout the pandemic. A study by Center for Countering Digital Hate looked at 812,000 anti-vaccine Facebook posts and tweets made between February 1 and March 16. CCDH found 65% of the content came from a group of 12 users dubbed the “disinformation dozen.”

On Facebook, those 12 people were responsible for 73% of anti-vaccine content. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the nephew of President John F. Kennedy, a prominent anti-vaxxer even before the pandemic, was one of the 12. Another is a natural health doctor who has published more than 600 articles disparaging the COVID-19 vaccine.

Hutchinson is traveling around Arkansas, where vaccinations are lagging and COVID-19 is surging, to encourage residents to get vaccinated.

According to CDC data compiled by the Mayo Clinic, 35.9% of the state’s population has been fully vaccinated, while 45.2% has received at least one dose. That leaves the state with one of the lowest vaccination rates per capita. Only Alabama and Mississippi have a smaller percentage of fully vaccinated residents.

Arkansas is also among the states seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases as the Delta variant rapidly spreads.

Hutchinson also said Sunday that the uptick in cases, especially as young people are being more affected, could encourage more people to get vaccinated.

“We are seeing younger adults going to the hospital. And people in Arkansas and across the nation respond to risk,” he said.

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at [email protected].

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