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We want people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. So do the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So does Fox News host Sean Hannity. So do doctors. So do Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. Steve Scalise. So do many workers. So does conservative commentator Ben Shapiro. So do family members of immunosuppressed people. So do President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.
There has been a notable wave of prominent conservatives stressing the importance of vaccinations this week. Do some of these encouragements feel late? Sure. But it’s not too late for people who haven’t yet gotten vaccinated to make the decision to greatly reduce their own risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19, and to help break the chain of transmission and protect others around them.
“Please take COVID seriously, I can’t say it enough,” Hannity said on Monday. “Enough people have died. We don’t need any more deaths.” He encouraged people to do some research and consult with their doctor to make a decision about what’s best for their safety.
“It absolutely makes sense for many Americans to get vaccinated,” Hannity added “I believe in science, I believe in the science of vaccination.”
Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana, received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Sunday, as reported by nola.com.
“Especially with the delta variant becoming a lot more aggressive and seeing another spike, it was a good time to do it,” Scalise said “When you talk to people who run hospitals, in New Orleans or other states, 90 percent of people in hospital with delta variant have not been vaccinated. That’s another signal the vaccine works.”
McConnell, a survivor of childhood polio, had already been outspoken in urging people to get vaccinated. He re-emphasized that message this week.
“If there is anybody out there willing to listen: Get vaccinated,” the Republican Senate minority leader from Kentucky said. “These shots need to get in everybody’s arms as rapidly as possible or we’re going to be back in a situation in the fall that we don’t yearn for — that we went through last year… This is not complicated.”
We hope there are still people out there willing to listen. There’s no doubt about it: polls have repeatedly found that Republicans say they are less likely to be vaccinated or to get vaccinated. We hope these messages from prominent conservative voices will help cut through hesitancy, and encourage people to listen to experts, learn from results and data and talk with their health care provider.
If input from like-minded politicians isn’t convincing anyone else to get vaccinated, the experiences of health care providers on the ground should. Dr. Brytney Cobia, a physician at a hospital in Alabama, said on Facebook earlier this week that she has been caring for young, healthy people with serious COVID-19 infections who ask for the vaccine, and she’s had to explain that it’s too late.
“A few days later when I call time of death, I hug their family members and I tell them the best way to honor their loved one is to go get vaccinated and encourage everyone they know to do the same,” Cobia said, as reported by the Alabama Media Group. “They cry. And they tell me they didn’t know. They thought it was a hoax. They thought it was political. They thought because they had a certain blood type or a certain skin color they wouldn’t get as sick. They thought it was ‘just the flu’. But they were wrong. And they wish they could go back. But they can’t. So they thank me and they go get the vaccine. And I go back to my office, write their death note, and say a small prayer that this loss will save more lives.”
There was also an important window into this discussion on Fox & Friends recently, as part of a conversation about Los Angeles County reinstating an indoor mask mandate.
Guest host Lawrence Jones said people are wondering, “‘Why get the vaccine if you’re not going to return to normal? What’s the use of doing it? Why?’”
“Well, you won’t die,” his Fox colleague Steve Doocy replied. “That’s a good reason.”
We think there are plenty of good reasons to get vaccinated. We’ve already seen in Maine how vaccination progress has been part of the return to a more normal summer season. There are societal and economic benefits that ripple out from the personal decision to get vaccinated.
A small number of vaccinated people have still died from COVID-19, but that does not mean vaccines are ineffective. Far from it. The vaccines being used here in the U.S. have shown to be very effective at reducing the risk of hospitalization and death.
To lean on what Doocy said, there’s a fundamental and straightforward reason we want people to get vaccinated: we don’t want people to die. COVID-19 isn’t a death sentence, but it can become one. Getting vaccinated makes that much less likely.