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Members of House GOP Doctors Caucus urge vaccination amid Republican fearmongering

Some members of the group of Republican doctors are still spreading misinformation, however.

By Emily Singer - July 21, 2021
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As the COVID-19 pandemic has morphed into what Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” the so-called House GOP “Doctors Caucus” will hold a news conference on Thursday and urge Americans to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The GOP Doctors Caucus describes itself as “18 medical providers who utilize their healthcare expertise and backgrounds to develop patient-centered health care policy.” In addition to planning a news conference, the group posted to its official Twitter account on Wednesday, “With the delta variant of COVID-19 emerging in the U.S., it’s important to get vaccinated. Talk to YOUR doctor who you know and trust to get the facts.”

Rates of COVID vaccination have continued to fall around the country, with many people reluctant or outright refusing to get vaccinated.

Some members of the GOP Doctors Caucus are trying to combat that reluctance, some of which can be attributed to disinformation about the vaccines’ testing and safety and about the severity of the pandemic spread by right-wing media and by some Republican lawmakers themselves.

Among the GOP House members who will be at the Thursday morning news conference are caucus co-chairs Brad Wenstrup (OH) and Andy Harris (MD), Michael Burgess (TX), Greg Murphy (NC), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA), Mark Green (TN), Neal Dunn (FL), and John Joyce (PA). They will be joined by Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS), who was a member of the caucus when he served in the House; House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), who received his first vaccination dose just this week, despite having access to it for months; and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), the chair of the House Republican Caucus.

Not all members of the GOP Doctors Caucus are scheduled to attend the news conference.

Among those missing will be Ronny Jackson of Texas, who served as White House physician under former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

Jackson is one of the a number of GOP lawmakers continuing to spread misinformation about the coronavirus and the vaccines, even though he said in November that he would get vaccinated: “I want to contribute to building up that herd immunity.” But in July, Jackson changed his tune, saying on Fox News, “This is still an experimental vaccine being used under an emergency use authorization. The federal government does not have the right to tell Americans that they have to get this vaccine, and it’s none of their business who’s had it and who hasn’t had it.”

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) has vowed not to get vaccinated, and has claimed falsely that the vaccine has caused thousands of deaths. His vaccine disinformation has drawn fierce criticism from health experts.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has also been pushing lies about the safety of the vaccine, so much so that she was suspended from Twitter for 12 hours on Monday over the disinformation.

Republican lawmakers are also expressing outrage over Biden’s plan to get more people vaccinated by sending volunteers door to door to provide information and vaccines to those hesitant to get the shots.

Republicans across the country are reacting to the misinformation and lies with increased hostility to getting the vaccine.

A recent poll from Civiqs about whether people planned to get the vaccine found that 89% of self-identified Democrats have already been vaccinated, with just 4% saying they do not plan to get the vaccine at all.

That same poll found that just 46% of self-identified Republicans say they have already been vaccinated, with a nearly identical 44% saying they don’t plan to get the vaccine.

That stark contrast is showing up in the COVID-19 vaccine data, with heavily Democratic states that Biden won having far higher vaccination rates than Republican states that Trump carried.

And that disparity in vaccination rates is showing up in COVID-19 case data, with states with the lowest vaccination rates, such as Missouri, Alabama, and Arkansas, seeing dramatic spikes in cases and hospitalizations. Experts say the numbers of deaths could start increasing next, pointing to previous lags of 2-8 weeks between the onset of the disease and resulting deaths.

Some doctors say they are seeing unvaccinated patients come in with COVID-19 and express remorse that they didn’t get vaccinated.

“All you really see is their fear and their regret,” said one Alabama doctor.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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