Reluctance among Republicans to receiving a vaccine is one of the biggest risks to coronavirus control efforts, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser said, although one GOP governor said attitudes may change.
Fauci said he’d like to see former President Donald Trump come out and publicly urge his supporters to get the vaccine.
“I wish he would,” Fauci said on “Fox News Sunday.” “He has such an incredible influence over people in the Republican Party. It would really be a game changer if he did.”
A PBS News Hour/NPR/Marist poll released Thursday showed that 41% of people who identify as Republicans, including 49% of GOP-leaning men, said they had no plans to get one of the three federally approved coronavirus vaccines. Among Democratic-leaning men, only 6% said the same.
Separately, a Monmouth University poll found 56% of Republicans either wanted to wait and see before getting a vaccine, or said they were likely never to get one. Only 23% of Democrats felt the same way.
“I just don’t get it,” Fauci said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” when asked about polling. He noted the various diseases that have been stamped out with vaccines, including polio and smallpox.
“We’ve got to dissociate political persuasion from common sense, no-brainer public health things,” Fauci said.
Asa Hutchinson, the Republican governor of Arkansas, said skepticism among GOP voters may diminish as access to shots changes from theoretical to a reality.
“The poll numbers are troubling, because in Arkansas, it’s a very pro-Trump state,” Hutchinson said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “We see that resistance.”
He added, though, that “as more and more people get the vaccine, they see it’s a way to get back to more normal life. They’re excited about it. They’re optimistic. So, I see those numbers changing.”
All living former presidents and their wives, except Donald Trump, appear in a public service announcement, getting their shots and urging Americans to do the same. The Trumps were vaccinated privately in the White House in January.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, spoke on three Sunday talk show appearances to mark a year since the Covid-19 outbreak was deemed a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. Since then, some 120 million cases have been identified around the world and more than 2.6 million people have died, including over 534,000 in the U.S.
He continued to warn against becoming complacent in the U.S. even as cases and hospitalizations drop sharply and the pace of vaccinations accelerates.
“If you’re going for a touchdown, don’t spike the ball on the five-yard line. Wait until you get into the end zone,” Fauci said on “Meet the Press.” “We’re not in the end zone yet.” New variants of the coronavirus are a particular risk, and have contributed to a fresh increase in cases in Europe, where fewer vaccines have been given so far.
On Thursday, Biden pledged that all adult Americans will be able to sign up for Covid-19 shots by May 1, receive their vaccines by the end of May, and return to a semblance of normal life by the July 4 Independence Day, the holiday traditionally marked by festive public gatherings and backyard barbecues.
That timeline, which Fauci said was “a couple of months” ahead of where he recently thought the U.S. would be, reflected “a full-court press” to mobilize vaccination efforts, including in hard-to-reach communities.
Opening community vaccine centers and giving pharmacies more leeway to give the shots should have an outsized impact, Fauci said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said Biden’s timeline could be too conservative and that the expedited vaccine rollout was “all about supply.”
“We could do it today, all we need is vaccines from the federal government,” Hogan, a Republican, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “If the president and his team is able to deliver, we don’t have to wait until May 1. We could get moving even faster.”
106 Million Shots
Some 21.4% of people in Maryland have received at least one vaccine dose and 12% have been fully vaccinated, according to the Bloomberg vaccine tracker, in both cases slightly above the U.S. average.
Overall vaccinations against Covid-19 in the U.S. have topped 106 million, with more than 2 million recently being administered each day on average. Supplies of the three approved shots in the U.S. is projected to surge in coming weeks, with enough for every American before June.
But a decision by a large swathe of the population to not receive a vaccine may slow or imperil the march toward herd immunity in the U.S.
The U.S. is on course to reach the lowest level of infections since the start of October, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. The average number of daily cases over the last week has fallen 15% compared with the previous week, continuing a decline that started in January.
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