GOP Candidate Once Again Spreads False Conspiracy Theories About Vaccines and Masks 

TRENTON, NJ — A new column by veteran New Jersey political reporter Charles Stile reveals that Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli is once again doubling down on misinformation, anti-science views, and Trumpian lies about COVID-19. Interviewed recently while trying to seek the USA Today Network’s endorsement, which instead went to Governor Phil Murphy, Ciattarelli echoed the same kinds of far-right, anti-science talking points about vaccines and masks that are prolonging the pandemic and tragically stopping many people from following public health directives. 

“Jack Ciattarelli is still siding with a small, loud minority of anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers — spreading dangerous misinformation and conspiracy theories that are prolonging the pandemic and putting peoples’ lives at risk,” said NJDSC Spokesman Phil Swibinski. “While Ciattarelli rejects science and facts and plays politics with COVID-19, New Jersey voters recognize that we need responsible leadership to continue our recovery from the pandemic, which is why they see Governor Murphy as the clear choice and will be rejected Jack Ciattarelli on November 2.”     

In the column, Stile details how Ciattarelli continues to cast doubt about the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines despite clear scientific evidence that they are safe and effective at protecting people from the pandemic: 

Although Ciattarelli says he has been vaccinated and urges others to do so, he also said it was his «strong feeling that government doesn’t have a right to tell anyone that they have to take a medicine.»

When reminded that governments have for generations mandated vaccines for measles, rubella, polio, and other childhood diseases, Ciattarelli argued that those vaccines have a proven track record of safety, while concerns about the new COVID vaccines linger.

But [Dr. Perry Halkitis, dean of the Rutgers University School of Public Health] argues that the COVID vaccines are safer than the older vaccines were when they were first introduced and that the technology behind them has been studied and developed over two decades. He says Ciattarelli is «dipping his toe» in the anti-science fervor that has contributed to the vaccine hesitancy.

Similarly, Ciattarelli is still spreading a conspiracy theory that masks inhibit learning and using it to justify his opposition to mask mandates in schools, despite there being no scientific evidence of this and CDC studies showing that school districts without mask mandates are seeing more COVID-19 cases:

On mask mandates, [Ciattarelli] cites conflicting reports about the value and potential harm of mask mandates for children.

«For every column that says that it’s a public health imperative for a child to wear a mask, I’ve seen another column by another clinician who says mask-wearing «inhibits learning,» Ciattarelli told our editorial board. 

Still, Ciattarelli’s reasoning stands in sharp contrast to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends universal mask wearing for school students and faculty. And it flies in the face of two recent CDC studies.