GOP Rep. Steve Scalise got his first dose of the vaccine against COVID-19 on Sunday, though vaccines have been available for months and the White House and even top Republicans has been encouraging quick inoculation.
In an interview with NOLA.com, the Louisiana representative explained why he got his jab in July in spite of saying he’d do it for months: “Especially with the Delta variant becoming a lot more aggressive and seeing another spike, it was a good time to do it. When you talk to people who run hospitals, in New Orleans or other states, 90% of people in hospital with delta variant have not been vaccinated. That’s another signal the vaccine works.”
Still, he maintained, vaccination is a “choice” no one should be “shamed into.”
He called the vaccine “safe and effective” and told the local outlet politics had nothing to do with his timing. But politics and the vaccine are still very much intwined in American culture right now.
The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll this month showed that 86% of Democrats had received at least one shot of a vaccine, but only 45% of Republicans had. Nearly half of Republicans surveyed said they aren’t likely to get vaccinated whereas just 6% of Democrats said the same.
Scalise’s decision to get vaccinated comes as conservative media figures like Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham have come under increasing fire for not promoting — or in some cases, downright casting doubt on the necessity and efficacy of — the vaccine.