Sherri J. Tenpenny is an American anti-vaccination activist who supports the disproven hypothesis that vaccines cause autism. An osteopathic physician, she is the author of four books opposing vaccination. A 2015 lecture tour of Australia was canceled due to a public outcry over her views on vaccination, which oppose established scientific consensus. A 2021 Center for Countering Digital Hate analysis concluded that Tenpenny is among the top twelve people spreading COVID-19 misinformation and pseudoscientific anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms. She has falsely asserted the vaccines magnetize people and connect them with cellphone towers.
|Known for||Anti-vaccine activism|
|Saying No to Vaccines|
Education and career
Tenpenny graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toledo in 1980 and received a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Missouri in 1984. From 1986 to 1998, Tenpenny was the director of the emergency department at Blanchard Valley Hospital in Findlay, Ohio. She opened an osteopathic practice in 1994 and went on to establish two more practices in 1996 and 2011.
Tenpenny had scheduled a speaking tour in Australia to occur starting in February 2015, but in January, after objections were raised to her anti-vaccination views, all the venues at which she was scheduled to speak cancelled the talks, and the tour was called off. Tenpenny has been criticized by the Stop The Australian Anti-Vaccination Network for "endangering people's health" and "targeting vulnerable parents".
Since 2017, Tenpenny and her business partner, Matthew Hunt, have taught a six-week, $623 course titled "Mastering Vaccine Info Boot Camp" designed to "sow seeds of doubt" regarding public health information. During the course, Tenpenny explains her views on the immune system and vaccines, and Hunt instructs participants on how best to use persuasion tactics in conversation to communicate the information.
A Facebook page managed by Tenpenny was deactivated in December 2020 as part of the social network's efforts to reduce the amount of misinformation on the platform. Nevertheless, a March 2021 analysis of Twitter and Facebook anti-vaccine content found Tenpenny to be one of 12 individual and organization accounts producing up to 65% of all anti-vaccine content across several social media platforms. Some of Tenpenny's interviews with anti-vaccination activists and conspiracy theorists have attracted a large audience on Rumble, a video-sharing platform that does not have policies against disinformation.
In a February 2021 video, Tenpenny claimed that COVID-19 vaccines cause death and autoimmune diseases, saying "Some people are going to die from the vaccine directly, but a large number of people are going to start getting horribly sick and get all kinds of autoimmune diseases, 42 days to maybe a year out." There is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines cause autoimmune diseases or death.
On May 17, 2021, Reuters issued a fact-check refuting Tenpenny's claim that COVID-19 vaccines affect sperm and fertility. The news organization reiterated that there is no scientific evidence to back these false claims.
Called by Republicans as an expert witness before a June 2021 hearing of the Ohio House Health Committee, Tenpenny promoted the false claim that COVID-19 vaccines cause people to become magnetized such that metal objects stick to their bodies, adding "There’s been people who have long suspected that there’s been some sort of an interface, yet-to-be-defined interface, between what’s being injected in these shots and all of the 5G towers." The video of her testimony was widely circulated, and in early July 2021 Twitter permanently suspended Tenpenny's account for "violating its COVID-19 misinformation policy". Her YouTube account was removed in September 2021 for breaking the company's policies on COVID-19 misinformation.
- Saying No to Vaccines: A Resource Guide for All Ages. Middleburg Heights, Ohio: NMA Media Press. 2008. ISBN 978-0-97909-104-9.
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