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Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was fined $14,650 by the NFL for violating the league’s COVID-19 protocols.

I am a veterinarian as well as an attorney. That’s why I was particularly disheartened to hear Aaron Rodgers’ dismissal of science and the benefits of vaccination and learn that he instead chose to use questionable remedies such as ivermectin to treat his COVID-19 infection.

I am familiar with ivermectin and vaccines. As everyone is now likely aware, ivermectin is a “horse dewormer.” That description is simplistic but not inaccurate. Ivermectin is primarily a veterinary product used to treat parasites. Even though it is used widely in the profession, it is not a drug without serious potential complications. Ivermectin toxicity is not pretty, since it can result in neurologic abnormalities, including coma and death.

I am familiar with death due to ivermectin. Horse dewormers containing ivermectin are readily available over the counter. One client of mine decided to treat her barn cats with ivermectin — with the disastrous result that the cats who pushed through the pack and ate the most died.

And although ivermectin has been available in veterinary medicine for a long time, it isn’t used to treat viral infections. Rodgers’ admission — late in the game — that he is not vaccinated and chose to treat his COVID-19 infection with medications, including ivermectin, which are not approved for this use, is frustrating. Rodgers’ reasons are particularly offensive, maybe in part due to the fact that he did not seem to fit the “dumb jock” mold. His deliberate verbal sleight of hand, choosing “immunized” to answer the question about his vaccination status, has slammed the door on his credibility.

Despite his declaration, Rodgers is not a critical thinker. A critical thinker does not base decisions on anecdotal evidence, untested theories and extrapolation of Petri dish observations. Rodgers professed to be concerned about what the COVID-19 vaccinations would do to his body, choosing homeopathic “immunization” instead, but when his preventative protocol was unsuccessful, he did not hesitate to use unproven prescription medications with potentially significant side effects. The quarterback chose the Hail Mary option for treatment.

Rodgers continues to search for excuses to justify his selfish and ignorant behavior. The NFL provides an option for players who do not want to be vaccinated, but Rodgers wasn’t keen on following the protocols with that option. He chose instead to not believe the science behind the vaccines, put the Pack around him at risk and then invoke Martin Luther King Jr. to justify his right to go his own way.

Unfortunately, his athletic prowess provides a platform for Rodgers to misinform and influence how others will view vaccination and treatment. To be clear, the fact that someone uses ivermectin and recovers from COVID-19 infection is not evidence, yet we can assume the use of ivermectin will increase because of Rodgers’ sponsorship of vigilante medicine. When the quarterback could be using his position to help the vaccine efforts, recently expanded to children, he has chosen instead to suggest that the vaccine can do more harm than good.

Be a responsible critical thinker. Follow the science, not the quarterback. Choose vaccination, not ivermectin.

Karen Heineman joined the Freedom From Religion Foundation as a legal fellow in September. She has been a practicing veterinarian in Wisconsin since 1992. She graduated from Marquette University Law School in 2020.

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