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Hawkins Co. woman inspires Senate bill making controversial COVID-19 pill Ivermectin available in pharmacies

Published by The Rogersville Review

  • By Allison F. Goley Staff Writer

  • Jul 6, 2022 Updated Aug 10, 2023

Senator Frank Nicely of Strawberry Plains (left) and Susan Lynn of Mt. Juliet (right) presented Hawkins Co.’s Bernadette Pajer with an official resolution commending her for her advocacy of a bill making Ivermectin available at pharmacies.

In late April, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a bill, inspired by a Hawkins county woman, intended to make the controversial COVID-19 drug Ivermectin easier to access.

The bill, sponsored by Senators Frank Nicely of Strawberry Plains and Susan Lynn of Mt. Juliet, authorizes pharmacists to provide Ivermectin to anyone 18 years of age or older who wishes to use it as a COVID-19 treatment.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Ivermectin is a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved prescription medication used to treat certain infections caused by internal and external parasites. When used as prescribed for approved indications, it is generally safe and well tolerated.”

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The CDC further notes that “Ivermectin is not authorized or approved by FDA for prevention or treatment of COVID-19.”

However, the number of instances of people using the veterinary formulation of Ivermectin, meant as an animal dewormer, have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, “as shown by a rise in calls to poison control centers reporting overdoses and more people experiencing adverse effects.”

The CDC released an official warning in August of 2021 advising against using the formulations intended for livestock.

Lynn said this was the impetus behind the bill, for which Bernadette Pajer of Hawkins County had a huge part in advocating.

“Exemplary service”

Nicely and Lynn spoke before the Hawkins Co. Commission on June 27 and presented Pajer with an official resolution honoring and commending her “for exemplary service” to the state.

“I’ve seen a lot of citizens come down and lobby the legislature–some of them effective and some of them would have been better off if they had stayed at the house,” Nicely said. “Bernadette did a great job and was very professional. She is new to East Tennessee, but if everybody who moves in was as good as she was, we would be in great shape.”

Pajer, originally from Seattle, Wa., holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Arts and Science, CLA (Cultural, Literature, Art) from the University of Washington and is the host of the popular radio show “An Informed Life Radio” out of Seattle.

“Pajer is an adept interviewer who strives to present her audience with ‘the missing information’ on matters of public and individual health importance,” the commendation reads. “We honor and commend [her] for her exemplary service to the State of Tennessee as a tireless advocate on behalf of public health, extending our deepest gratitude for her exceptional service and leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

She volunteers for the nonprofit organizations Informed Choice Wa. and the Tenn. Coalition for Vaccine Choice, and she is the Tenn. director of Stand for Health Freedom. She is also a member of Grassroots Patriots of Hawkins County.

Lynn calls bill “a great solution”

“This is a great solution, because, rather than having citizens go into the co-op, why shouldn’t they be able to get Ivermectin behind the counter?” Lynn told the Commission. “You go to the pharmacy, they will ask you a few questions and your weight, then they will dispense you the amount that will be helpful for you and your family.”

“It’s better than trying to figure out what size horse you are,” Nicely said.

Lynn said, though it was difficult to get the bill passed in the state Senate’s health committee, Pajer made advocating for the bill much easier.

“The way Bernadette could explain things–I didn’t even have to ask her,” Lynn said. “She just did it. I was so surprised that a citizen would care so much about the health of other Tennesseans like that. But that is her passion.”

“I don’t know if a medical freedom informed consent advocate has ever been recognized by the state legislature before, so I am thrilled and humbled to accept this,” Pajer added. “I think it reflects the best of how America works when moms like me--activists--try to bring to public policy some common sense.”

Both the Senate bill and the resolution honoring Pajer will be linked to the online version of this article to be read in full.

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