Republican doctors in Congress try to boost vaccine confidence

Polling shows that GOP voters have some of the highest rates of vaccine skepticism of any demographic in the country

GOP Sen. Roger Marshall says doctors, both in Congress and in local communities, can be a trusted source of information. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
GOP Sen. Roger Marshall says doctors, both in Congress and in local communities, can be a trusted source of information. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted April 27, 2021 at 5:16pm

A group of Republican doctors and health care providers in Congress, led by Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall, launched a public service campaign Tuesday to encourage COVID-19 vaccine participation among constituents. 

Polling shows that Republican voters have some of the highest rates of vaccine skepticism of any demographic in the country. 

More than 50 percent of self-described conservatives said they would not get the COVID-19 vaccine or were still unsure if they would get a shot once it becomes available to them, according to a new poll from CBS and YouGov. These conservatives cited government distrust, skepticism of science and concern about side effects as the top reasons for avoiding the vaccine. Nearly 60 percent of conservatives who want to avoid the shot said the vaccine was too untested and they are waiting to see what happens before making a decision.

The Republican doctors on the Hill are trying to convince these Republicans that they should not be afraid. 

“Operation Warp Speed brought us safe and effective vaccines in record time. ...  The FDA did not skip any steps. Instead, they cut bureaucratic red tape — not corners — and they got the job done in record time,” the doctors say in a public service announcement released Tuesday.

Marshall told reporters on Tuesday that many people who are still refusing the vaccine might feel like the vaccine development process was not transparent. But doctors, both in Congress and in local communities, can be a trusted source of information.

“We’re hoping to move the needle,” Marshall said.  

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso said he participated in the video because he believes getting a vaccine is the only way out of the pandemic. Wyoming has some of the highest vaccine hesitancy rates in the country, according to a new survey from the U.S. Census Bureau. More than 33 percent of adults in the state said they were reluctant to get the vaccine. 

“You want to get kind of blanket immunity, you want to have enough people to have had vaccinations. And they’re not perfect, but they’re pretty darn good, you know,” Barrasso said. 

Republicans participating include Marshall, Barrasso, Arkansas Sen. John Boozman, Texas Rep. Brian Babin, Indiana Rep. Larry Bucshon, Texas Rep. Michael C. Burgess, Georgia Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter, Maryland Rep. Andy Harris, Pennsylvania Rep. John Joyce and North Carolina Rep. Greg Murphy.