Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.
An osteopathic physician who peddles unproven and false conspiracies about vaccines that have spread like wildfire on social media just got her medical license renewed by the state of Ohio.
Dr. Sherri Tenpenny’s medical license was renewed by the State Medical Board of Ohio on September 16, according to the Ohio Capital Journal. Tenpenny has been a board-certified medical doctor since 1984, and her license was set to expire on October 1; a spokesperson told Ohio Capital Journal that Tenpenny’s license was automatically renewed for another two years under guidelines but added the renewal “does not prevent the board from taking future disciplinary action.”
Tenpenny has been an anti-vaccine activist for more than a decade; in 2006, for example, she published a book called “FOWL! Bird Flu: It’s Not What You Think,” which discussed “why vaccines are not the answer” to that pandemic. She followed that up two years later with “Saying No to Vaccines: A Resource Guide to All Ages.”
The Cleveland-area doctor’s website boasts that she’s “widely regarded as the most knowledgeable and outspoken physician on the adverse impact that vaccines can have on health,” and she operates a “twice-annual online vaccine Boot Camp,” which costs $623. But thanks to the politicization of the COVID-19 vaccines, she has gained more national prominence, and earlier this year went viral for testifying before the Ohio legislature that COVID-19 vaccines are turning people into human magnets.
“I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures all over the internet of people who have had these shots and now they’re magnetized,” Tenpenny told Ohio legislators in June. “They can put a key on their forehead. It sticks. They can put spoons and forks all over them and they can stick, because now we think that there’s a metal piece to that.”
Tenpenny was suspended from Twitter in July. Before that, she used her account to encourage people to not wear masks or get tested for COVID-19, according to a report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate. She remains on Instagram and has nearly 11,000 followers on the platform.
In fact, Tenpenny was part of a group of 12 prominent anti-vaccination activists who made up a majority of the anti-vaccination content published on Facebook and Twitter during February and March 2021, CCDH reported. Other names on the list include Dr. Joseph Mercola and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Though both the state medical board and Ohio State Medical Association have refrained from commenting on Tenpenny directly, the Ohio Osteopathic Association denounced her testimony in June.
“The importance of physicians and health care professionals to provide patients with accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccines cannot be overstated. Misinformation is a serious threat to personal and public health and it must be rejected,” OOA president Henry Walhum said in a statement at the time.
“This includes the false and completely unfounded claims made by Dr. Sherri Tenpenny during the Ohio House of Representatives Health Committee on June 8. The OOA disavows her testimony. She is not affiliated with the OOA, has never been a member, and does not represent the views of the OOA.”