A pilot using TikTok to criticize the federal vaccine mandate is going viral among conservatives

A pilot using TikTok to criticize the federal vaccine mandate is going viral among conservatives
This screenshot is from a viral TikTok showing a pilot criticizing vaccine mandates. The video has been boosted by popular figures on the right. @cellsaucenutrition/TikTok
  • A pilot spoke out against vaccine mandates in a now-viral video.
  • The video, originally posted on TikTok, has been boosted by popular right-wing Twitter accounts.

A TikTok showing a pilot criticizing vaccine mandates is going viral in right-wing spaces online.

The video, which shows a pilot named Shawn Andrew Walker baselessly claiming that vaccine mandates will lead to numerous severe restrictions on personal freedoms, has amassed over 60,000 views and almost 8,000 likes on TikTok.

It has spread dramatically on Twitter, where it's been shared by right-wing figures like the conservative pundit Candace Owens and Benny Johnson, the creative chief officer of the conservative organization Turning Point USA.

The TikTok follows President Joe Biden's September announcement that all federal contractors would be required to get vaccinated by December 8. Large United States airline workers are federal contractors, Reuters reported, which has led to many major airlines now requiring their staff to be vaccinated.

Biden announced a similar mandate in September for all private employers with over 100 staff members to require their workers to get vaccinated or be tested weekly. Although the rules have not been finalized or enacted, many businesses have already started to preemptively comply. The White House said that this mandate has already increased vaccination rates in the workplace by over 20%, according to a report published on Thursday.


Still, the mandates are a huge point of contention in the US, as many people are fired or resigning from their jobs after refusing to get vaccinated, Insider reported.

The TikTok was posted on Thursday by the nutrition supplement brand Cell Sauce (@cellsaucenutrition). Walker founded Cell Sauce, Rolling Stone reported. Walker's Instagram profile, where he also shared the viral video, states that he is the CEO of the company.


I never thought in my life I would have to make this video. ##fightback #freedom #airlines

♬ original sound - Sports Performance Nutrition

"I've been an airline pilot for 18 years and now I'm facing an ultimatum," Walker said at the start of the video. "I'm being told in order to continue my career as an airplane pilot, I must be vaccinated, which really means I have to choose between putting food on the table for my family, and the freedom of choice."

In the two-and-a-half-minute video, Walker baselessly alleged that allowing vaccine mandates to stand would lead to other restrictions in the future - and encouraged others to "fight back."

"If we do not stand together and fight back in one voice, soon we can be told where to live, what job we will do, what religion to believe, and how many children we can have," he said.


Walker appeared to be making a slippery slope argument, which is when a person alleges "with little or no evidence" that one action will set off a chain reaction resulting in an unwanted conclusion, as defined by Texas State University's Department of Philosophy.

At the end of the TikTok clip, Walker urged viewers to join a group called the "US Freedom Flyers," described on its website as "a group of transportation industry employees who have come together to fight federal and state mandates which aim to strip Citizens of their right to medical freedom." It is unclear who founded the organization or what Walker's role in it is. The US Freedom Flyers did not respond to a request for comment.

It was not immediately clear whether the video violated TikTok's guidelines against medical misinformation related to COVID-19 vaccines. A TikTok representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Johnson's Twitter upload of the video on Monday, which Owens quote-tweeted the same day, has notched up over 2.5 million views, 68,000 likes, and 31,000 retweets as of Wednesday afternoon.



Walker appeared on a segment of "Fox & Friends" on Tuesday, one day after his video initially went viral, where he said that, after consulting with "medical professionals," he and his wife did not plan to get vaccinated and that he was willing to lose his job over the decision.

"My health and my medical choice is more important to me than my career at this point," he told Fox News.

COVID-19 vaccines were rigorously tested by the Food and Drug Administration and are highly effective at combatting serious illness and safe to use, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most of the videos posted on the Cell Sauce TikTok account involve motocross and nutrition supplements. But one TikTok in early July showed him wearing what appears to be an American Airlines lanyard while speaking about gut health supplements from the cockpit of a plane. He also posted the same clip on his Instagram page.

A LinkedIn account that appears to belong to Walker says he has been employed at American Airlines as a "Captain American Eagle Airlines" since 2004. American Eagle is a branch comprising six regional airlines that is partnered with American Airlines' parent company, American Airlines Group.


4 steps to a healthy gut and less pain. #guthealthsupplements #guthealthmatters #jointpain #bodyacheseverywhere

♬ Sleepmode - Official Sound Studio

A Federal Aviation Administration registration profile that matches Walker's name says that he earned certificates as an Aircraft Dispatcher in 2005, a Flight Instructor in 2009, and an Airline Transport Pilot in 2017. A profile matching Walker's name on the airplane database AviationDB says that he is certified as a transport and commercial pilot, although it does not specify when he was certified.

When asked whether Walker was employed as a pilot for the airline, an American Airlines spokesperson did not comment and instead pointed toward a memo from October 1 announcing that all of the company's US-based team members and certain international crew members would be required to be vaccinated following recent federal mandates.

"While we are still working through the details of the federal requirements, it is clear that team members who choose to remain unvaccinated will not be able to work at American Airlines," the memo stated.

The spokesperson told Insider that American Airlines employees will need to be vaccinated by November 24. In his conversation with Fox News, Walker said that his employer, which he did not name, was requiring him to get vaccinated by November 24 or be fired.

Facebook and Twitter accounts and an email address appearing to belong to Walker did not respond to requests for comment.


Read more stories from Insider's Digital Culture desk.