Arkansas GOP Gov, Asa Hutchinson said Sunday incentives to get people vaccinated are no longer working in the state, and that an alarming rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations may finally make people reconsider their hesitancy.
In an interview on CBS News’ “Face The Nation,” Hutchinson responded to news that there’s been a 300% increase in the numbers of patients hospitalized with COVID-19, saying they are primarily those who have not gotten vaccinated.
“In March and April, whenever we were struggling with vaccine supplies, that we started getting our vaccines out there, you saw our cases go down dramatically,” he said.
“And when our cases went down, the demand for vaccines was reduced as well. So what you have is that people started feeling comfortable.”
According to Hutchinson, “we’ve used incentives that have not been very successful.”
“We've obviously done marketing for our vaccines. We are educating, doing everything that we can,” he said. “And we're up to… 50% of adults already are vaccinated. But we've got to get that higher.”
“I think if incentives don't work, reality will,” the governor asserted. “And as you see the hospitalizations go up, the cases go up, I think you'll see the vaccination rate increase as well.”
Hutchinson lamented that the Food and Drug Administration emergency approval status for the COVID-19 vaccines, the pause on the Johnson and Johnson vaccine and “human nature” all played a part in the vaccine hesitancy in his state.
“Part of it is ‘we'll just delay it’,” he said of residents’ response,
“But the part that you're most concerned about are those that don't believe in the efficacy of it. … I had emails today from a business person who was discouraging vaccines. “
Another part of it, he said, “is just the nature of humans that unless they are absolutely convinced, there is that vaccine hesitancy,” noting the FDA authorization and J&J pause “increased the hesitancy,”
With the surge of hospitalizations in Arkansas, however, Hutchinson said prevention measures like mask-wearing could be reinstituted, “we’re beyond that.”
“We know what we need to do,” he said. “And I don't believe even with the increase that we've seen in hospitalizations, that we're going to go back to the levels we were last winter. But it is a concern.”
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