Covid-19 Conspiracy and Anti-Vaxx Stickers in Potsdam, NY

I found a rash of Covid-19 conspiracy and anti-vaxx stickers last week in Potsdam, NY, stretching down two blocks on Market Street in front of many of the main stores and restaurants in town that were open during the busy holiday season.

These stickers didn’t list the “Join the White Rose” disinformation group like the stickers that I wrote about from NYC last November, but the QR code on one of them linked to Open VAERS, a legitimate vaccine adverse reaction event reporting system run in the United States by the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration.

Apparently, the website is being used to promote false claims and misrepresent public data, including its assertion that as of December 24, 2021, over 21,000 people have died from the vaccine (fact-checked here by Reuters and here by NPR).

The stickers in Potsdam were printed on cheap white paper, as were the ones in NYC, but the ones here in the North Country were so poorly done that the laser jet ink had barely fused onto the surface. As in NYC, several stickers were densely stuck up on parking meters, street signs, building facades and windows. I counted 17 different designs with phrases such as “Vaccine injured children are lifelong Big Pharma customers,” The freedoms you surrendered today are the freedoms your grandchildren will never know existed,” and “Danger! You are being conditioned to view your freedom as selfish.”

In typical anti-Fauci fashion, one sticker read “Fauci the fraud – read more about the decades of corruption at the hands of this bureaucrat here” with a QR code that links to Children’s Health Defense, a website linked to Robert Kennedy, Jr., who is known for his anti-vaccine propaganda.

The sad thing about these stickers in Potsdam is that St. Lawrence County has a relatively low vaccination rate in New York State (see SLC Covid-19 tracker here), and my NY21 Congressional representative, Elise Stefanik, is vocal on her position regarding anti-vaccine and anti-mask mandates:

“’Let me be clear,”’ Congresswoman Elise Stefanik declared Monday afternoon on her Twitter megaphone. ‘No vaccine mandates for teachers No vaccine mandates for students. No mandates for anyone. And unmask our kids!'” (Stefanik has adopted a pro-COVID agenda editorial from The Post-Star, Glens Falls, NY, August 3, 2021).

Albany’s Times Union Editorial Board even called her out (A deadly cynical strategy, December 14, 2021).

“Ms. Stefanik — who this year became the number three Republican in the House of Representatives — and the many other Republicans who have adopted this strategy would better serve the public if they used their bully pulpits to unequivocally encourage people to get vaccinated, rather than sending out all sorts of conflicting messages. If we’re to put mask and vaccine mandates behind us, political leaders must stop playing to a misguided base that sticks adamantly to the notion that not getting vaccinated or wearing a mask is somehow an exercise of liberty. It’s not. It’s reckless, self-centered behavior that’s nurturing variants, jeopardizing the reopening of businesses, schools, travel and tourism, and keeping the United States in the grip of a pandemic that has claimed nearly 800,000 Americans, including 47,135 in New York.

This cynical political calculation isn’t just breaking government’s effort to beat the pandemic. It’s killing people.”

updates from @KEW

Here is my response to the Potsdam stickers:

Unfortunately, it was taken down within 24 hours.