Some prominent Republicans and conservative TV hosts have in recent days encouraged people to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in response to rising case and death rates.
Prominent Republicans speak out in favor of vaccines
Several polls in recent months have found that Republicans are less likely than Democrats to seek out vaccines against Covid-19. For instance, an April poll by the Washington Post and ABC News found that 55% of Republicans under the age of 40 said they would not get a Covid-19 vaccine. By comparison, just 14% of Democrats under 40 said the same.
On Thursday, members of Republican leadership in Congress, as well as the GOP Doctors Caucus, held a press conference to "discuss the need for individuals to get vaccinated, uncover the origins of the pandemic, and keep schools and businesses open."
Among the attendees was Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), who last weekend received the first shot of his Covid-19 vaccine. "Especially with the delta variant becoming a lot more aggressive and seeing another spike, it was a good time to [get vaccinated]," he said.
Separately, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday encouraged Americans to get vaccinated as soon as they can. "These shots need to get in everybody's arm as rapidly as possible, or we're going to be back in a situation in the fall—that we don't yearn for—that we went through last year," he said.
And on Fox News, which has a large conservative viewership, some prominent hosts have made public statements encouraging viewers to get vaccinated.
For instance, Sean Hannity on Monday told viewers to "please take Covid seriously—I can't say it enough," adding, "I believe in the science of vaccination."
Similarly, "Fox & Friends" co-host Steve Doocy on Monday noted that nearly all Covid-19 deaths are now among the unvaccinated. After adding that some people, such as pregnant women, may be hesitant to get vaccinated, Doocy said, "Everybody else, if you have the chance, get the shot."
Doocy also denounced several examples of misinformation about the vaccine, such as that it's "killing lots of people" or "changes your DNA" or comes with "little microchips."
And Christopher Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax, a conservative news channel, published an essay praising President Joe Biden's vaccination efforts. "I myself have gotten the Pfizer vaccine," Ruddy wrote. "There's no question in my mind, countless lives would have been saved if the vaccine was available earlier."
'We need every media platform to step up'
In related news, the White House said that as part of its efforts to combat vaccine misinformation and spread awareness about the importance of vaccination, it has held informal briefings with Fox News and several other networks on coronavirus response efforts.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday acknowledged "the importance of reaching Fox's audience about the Covid-19 vaccines and their benefits," adding her team doesn't "see vaccines as a political issue. It's an issue about keeping Americans safe."
Separately, Kevin Munoz, a White House spokesperson, added, "We need every media platform to step up and ensure their coverage provides accurate, objective information. As with any misinformation, we don't shy away from calling it out."
For its part, Fox News said the meeting was routine. "There have been no high-level conversations between Fox News Media and the White House regarding our coverage," the organization said in a statement. "We had one routine briefing with the White House in early May on vaccination rates, and our D.C. bureau personnel are regularly in touch with them on a variety of issues, as is the case with every other network." (Grynbaum et. al., New York Times, 7/20; Owens, Axios, 7/22; Kang, New York Times, 7/17)