AUSTIN, Texas - On Saturday, hundreds of Texans gathered on the steps of the state Capitol to oppose vaccine mandates and demand personal choice.
"Thank you for fighting for individual liberty, thank you for fighting against mandates, you are Texas!" said State Rep. James White, who spoke briefly before heading into the Capitol for a special session committee hearing.
The event, hosted by Texans for Vaccine Choice, featured a variety of speakers with different backgrounds and stories. One speaker, Ernest Ramirez, said he lost his son just days after he got the vaccine.
"My son received the vaccine, and he died a few days later, and the only explanation that was given to me was an enlarged heart," said Ramirez. "I love the hell out of my country, but I don’t trust my government anymore"
Another speaker, Dr. Amy Offutt, said since the pandemic began, she has treated 1,200 acutely ill patients with Covid-19. She said in that time she has seen less than 20 hospitalizations and just one death - a patient that came in 12 days after contracting the virus.
"It’s just hard to understand why those of us who want to have something to use that is actually FDA approved, but used off-label as a medication cocktail for sick patients, what would be wrong with that?" said Dr. Offutt, an integrative medicine physician.
Miguel Escobar, a physician assistant, went viral recently for his testimony on Covid-19 at a school board meeting in Edinburg, Texas. He said he, specifically, wanted to help educate Hispanics.
"Quienes son los animales? Ustedes, bueno, no este grupo, pero lo que se están vacunando - ustedes son el experimento," said Escobar, saying those getting vaccinated are part of an experiment.
Speakers questioned the safety and effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccines and pushed back on any kind of medical mandate.
"The practice of medicine has been abducted and prostituted by the federal government," said Dr. Fleming, founder of The Fleming Method. "We have never had to coerce people to take a vaccine."
They also implied that the push to vaccinate - or outright mandating - could have more, far-reaching consequences.
"You and I have a stewardship responsibility to stand for and to resist any ideology that is antithetical to the principles that founded this nation," said Pastor Steven Broden, executive director of the Content of Character Series. "Soft tyranny will always turn into hard tyranny, and hard tyranny will push a totalitarian agenda."
Currently, all three Covid-19 vaccines available have Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA. The FDA may grant full approval for the Pfizer vaccine as soon as Monday, according to a report by the New York Times