The couple in the website videos could be hawking any number of products.
“You’re going to love owning the platinum package,” Charlene Bollinger tells viewers, as a picture of a DVD set, booklets and other products flashes on screen. Her husband, Ty, promises a “director’s cut edition,” and over 100 minutes of additional footage.
Click the orange button, his wife says, “to join in the fight for health freedom” — or more specifically, to pay $199 to $499 for the Bollingers’ video series, “The Truth About Vaccines 2020.”
The Bollingers are part of an ecosystem of for-profit companies, nonprofit groups, YouTube channels and other social media accounts that stoke fear and distrust of COVID-19 vaccines, resorting to what medical experts say is often misleading and false information.
An investigation by The Associated Press has found that the couple work closely with others prominent in the anti-vaccine movement to drive sales through affiliate marketing relationships.
According to the Bollingers, there is big money involved. They have said that they have sold tens of millions of dollars of products through various ventures and paid out $12 million to affiliates. Tens of thousands of people ponied up cash for an earlier version of their vaccine video series, they said.
In other developments:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is easing indoor mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to safely stop wearing masks inside in most places.
- Gov. Mike DeWine's announcement of a weekly $1 million prize to entice Ohioans to get coronavirus vaccines is raising questions and objections. The AP explains how the incentive will work.
- Many U.S. Latinos are forgoing COVID-19 shots because of concerns about losing work hours, getting a bill, and for some, immigration worries. That's according to a new poll that offers insights into how to raise vaccination rates among the nation's largest ethnic minority.
- U.S. restaurants and stores are rapidly raising pay in an urgent effort to attract more applicants and keep up with a flood of customers as the pandemic eases.
- The U.S. government is providing $7.4 billion to expand the nation’s public health capacity. That will mean hiring school nurses to vaccinate kids and creating a service corps around health care as well as bolstering traditional disease detection efforts.
- The presidents of the nation's two major teachers unions called separately for a full return to in-person learning in the fall, with the leader of the American Federation of Teachers declaring Thursday that her organization was “all-in.”
- Schools around the U.S. are considering whether they can once again hold the senior prom, with districts requiring masks and booking outdoor venues like baseball stadiums or setting up tents.