Anger as Republican lawmakers who played down pandemic jump vaccine queue

Members of Congress have been publicly receiving shot to build confidence among Americans

Louise Hall
Monday 21 December 2020 10:24 EST
Mike Pence receives Covid jab live on TV

A number of Republican US lawmakers who played down the pandemic and undermined Covid guidelines have faced backlash online for being among the first to receive the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.

The first people across the US began receiving the Pfizer Covid candidate last week, after the jab was given final approval by the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use.

As those most vulnerable to the virus across the country began to receive their shots, a number of US lawmakers began getting publicly inoculated with the jab, sharing proof online.  

Members of Congress from across the political spectrum, some outside the prioritisation criteria, cut the vaccine queue in an attempt to build public confidence in the jab, eliciting mixed reactions from social media.  

However, certain Republican senators who have often downplayed the pandemic in line with messaging from party leader Donald Trump, and have flouted social distancing and mask guidelines, began to receive particular criticism online.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s announcement of his inoculation quickly garnered attention on Twitter, with many pointing out that the senator had recently attended a large Trump rally maskless.

“I know I looked away from the needle. And yes, I know I need a tan. But I am so confident that the #Covid19 vaccine is safe & effective that I decided to take it myself,” the senator posted on Saturday.

The post quickly gathered over 22,000 comments, many of which were critical of Sen Rubio receiving the vaccine, citing his attitude towards the pandemic.

South Carolina Senator and ardent Donald Trump supporter Lindsey Graham also faced the same scrutiny on Twitter after he posted photos of himself receiving the shot.

“Thank God for nurses who help people in need and know how to use a needle. Thank God for those who produced these vaccines,” he wrote.

“If enough of us take it, we will get back to normal lives. Help is on the way.”

Vice-President Mike Pence garnered a similar reaction on Twitter after receiving the vaccine in Washington DC on Friday, with many criticising the administration’s handling of the pandemic.

Some cut in to reiterate the importance of high-profile figures receiving the vaccine, saying that it was “good and important” that the vice-president receive the shot.

The majority of US residents are not expected to receive the vaccine until spring 2021, however, one out of every five Americans (21 per cent) expressed in a recent Ipsos poll that they would choose not to get the vaccine.

Senate leader Mitch McConnell, a 78-year-old survivor of polio, was not lambasted for receiving the shot but instead for his prolonged refusal to agree on a second coronavirus relief bill to provide aid to Americans impacted by the pandemic.

Almost 18 million people have been infected with the novel coronavirus across the US since the outbreak gripped the country in March, leading to the deaths of over 318,000 people.

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