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Welcome to Volume One - Issue One             June 8, 2021

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local disinformation campaign

Photo: one of three trucks parked next to Taconic Hills School before a vaccine clinic there

Columbia County residents are getting vaccinated.  Local COVID case numbers are dropping and we are beginning to restart businesses, schools and our lives.

Columbia County officials, and the nations’s top scientists at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) say our COVID-19 vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective.  The results are plummeting local and national infection rates.

But a Columbia County group is spreading disinformation about the very vaccines that are making this progress possible.

Photo: another of three trucks parked next to Taconic Hills School

This Columbia County group, using the names Do We Need This? and/or the Columbia County Alliance for Freedom, is threatening the recovery in our county by spreading false information to vulnerable, unvaccinated community members.  They falsely claim that life-saving COVID-19 vaccines don’t work and are dangerous.

Photo: disinformation rally in Albany - Source: Do We Need This? website

Photos: road signs placed around Columbia County

At protests, at vaccine clinics, on billboards, in flyers and road-side signs and online, this anti-vaxx group has been pushing lies that endanger public health: that the COVID-19 pandemic was a conspiracy planned by health experts like Dr. Fauci; that COVID-19 is not harmful; and, that vaccines and masks do not work.

Reference: Columbia County Alliance for Freedom (also known as Do We Need This?) press release

who is spreading false COVID vaccine information?

At least six community members have identified themselves as organizers with this group.  Some in the group support important causes like sustainable organic farming, the environment, education and peace.  Many have ties to the Hawthorne Valley Association.

Nonetheless, their disinformation could endanger the health and lives of community members, and slow Columbia County’s path to immunity from COVID.

alt-right influence and infiltration

Although many 'anti-vaxxers' disapprove of hate groups and other alt-right extremists, The New York Times reports that racist right-wing groups are working to co-opt anti-vaxx groups by promoting slogans like: “Covid-19 Vaccines Are Weapons of Mass Destruction.”

Worryingly, a local organizer with the group does have previous ties to alt-right, anti-semitic, racist groups.  Reference links:

Interview August 31, 2005 - anti-semitism

Essay - anti-semitism

Association with KKK and other with racist groups


Additionally, symbols minimizing anti-Jewish racism (the Nazi's "Jewish Badge") and linked to anti-Black racism (Confederate Battle Flag) have been displayed at protests promoted by Do We Need This?

comparing measures to combat COVID
with the holocaust
Source: Do We Need This? website

Confederate flag flies at podium at rally in NYC
promoted by Do We Need This?  

countering the disinformation

We can all help to counter this dangerous local disinformation about COVID-19 vaccines by sharing carefully researched, accurate information with family, friends, communities and on-line from respected sources like these:

Center for Disease Control

NYS - Frequently Asked Questions

Stay tuned for the next edition of the Vaxx Facts newsletter (later this week) featuring this article by Eion Higgins on the anti-vaxx campaign fundraiser on June 19th in Ghent with author Naomi Wolf, who was just banned from Twitter for spreading COVID conspiracy theories.  The fundraiser goes to support Do We Need This? and two other local "conspiracy-based" groups.

Excerpt: "In Columbia County, where the event will be held, the disturbing intersection between the anti-vaccination movement and the far right is on full display."
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