The reigning NFL MVP, whose endorsement deals include a starring role in commercials for insurance company State Farm, hinted that his stance on vaccination could have consequences when he described himself Friday as a victim of “cancel culture.”
They went into hospitals with heart attacks, kidney failure or in a psychiatric crisis.
GREEN BAY, Wis. — A Wisconsin health care organization has ended a nine-year partnership with Green Bay Packers star Aaron Rodgers after the quarterback detailed his reasoning for avoiding the three COVID-19 vaccinations endorsed by the NFL.
The statement said Prevea Health “remains deeply committed to protecting its patients, staff, providers and communities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes encouraging and helping all eligible populations to become vaccinated against COVID-19 to prevent the virus from further significantly impacting lives and livelihoods.”
The move comes a day after Rodgers told “The Pat McAfee Show” he had sought alternative treatments to COVID-19 vaccination because he is allergic to an ingredient in two of the FDA-approved shots. Rodgers, who turns 38 in December, did not say what ingredient he was allergic to, or how he knows he is allergic.
Rodgers has strongly questioned the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols, along with any organization forcing health requirements on individuals.
“I believe strongly in bodily autonomy and the ability to make choices for your body, not to have to acquiesce to some woke culture or crazed group of individuals who say you have to do something,” he said Friday. “Health is not a one size fits all for everybody, and for me it involved a lot of study in the offseason.”
The COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. were tested in tens of thousands of people and proven to be both safe and effective at dramatically reducing the risk of serious disease and death. The vaccines now have been given to more than 200 million Americans and that real-world use plus extra government safety tracking have made clear that serious side effects are extremely rare — and that any risk is far lower than the risks posed by COVID-19.
Yet in the scheme of things that can go wrong in a hospital, it is catastrophic: About 21% of the patients who contracted covid in the hospital from April to September last year died, the data shows. In contrast, nearly 8% of other Medicare patients died in the hospital at the time.
Steven Johnson, 66, was expecting to get an infection cut out of his hip flesh and bone at Blake Medical Center in Bradenton, Florida, in November 2020. His wife, Cindy Johnson, says he had tested negative for covid-19 two days before he was admitted. After 13 days in the hospital, he tested positive, Cindy says. (Cindy Johnson)
Steven Johnson, 66, was expecting to get an infection cut out of his hip flesh and bone at Blake Medical Center in Bradenton, Florida, last November. The retired pharmacist had survived colon cancer and was meticulous to avoid contracting covid. He could not have known that, from April through September, 8% of that hospital’s Medicare covid patients were diagnosed with the virus after they were admitted for another concern.
Johnson had tested negative for covid two days before he was admitted. After 13 days in the hospital, he tested positive, said his wife, Cindy Johnson, also a retired pharmacist.
Soon he was struggling to clear a glue-like phlegm from his lungs. A medical team could hardly control his pain. They prompted Cindy to share his final wishes. She asked: “Honey, do you want to be intubated?” He responded with an emphatic “no.” He died three days later.
After her husband tested positive, Cindy Johnson, trained in contact tracing, quickly got a covid test. She tested negative. Then she thought about the large number of hospital staffers flowing into and out of his room — where he was often unmasked — and suspected a staff member had infected him. That the hospital, part of the HCA Healthcare chain, still has not mandated staff vaccinations is “appalling,” she said.
“I’m furious,” she said.
“How can they say on their website,” she asked, “that the safety precautions ‘we’ve put into place make our facilities among the safest possible places to receive healthcare at this time’?”
Blake Medical Center spokesperson Lisa Kirkland said the hospital is “strongly encouraging vaccination” and noted that it follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and federal and state guidelines to protect patients. President Joe Biden has called for all hospital employees to be vaccinated, but the requirement could face resistance in a dozen states, including Florida, that have banned vaccine mandates.
Rodgers, who has been tested daily as part of NFL protocols for unvaccinated players, found out he contracted COVID-19 on Wednesday. He can’t rejoin the Packers for 10 days and will miss Sunday’s game at Kansas City. He must have a negative test to return to the team on Nov. 13.
They left with covid-19 — if they left at all.
More than 10,000 patients were diagnosed with covid in a U.S. hospital last year after they were admitted for something else, according to federal and state records analyzed exclusively for KHN. The number is certainly an undercount, since it includes mostly patients 65 and older, plus California and Florida patients of all ages.