Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said Sunday that vaccine comments from fellow Republican Sen. Ron Johnson “hurt” the effort to get America sufficiently immunized against COVID-19.
Mr. Johnson, of Wisconsin, recently told a conservative radio host he is skeptical of the “big push” to get all Americans vaccinated in lieu of more limited distribution to people who tend to see the worst outcomes from the disease.
“The science tells us that vaccines are 95% effective. So if you have a vaccine, quite honestly, what do you care if your neighbor has one or not? I mean, what is it to you?” he told Vicki McKenna.
The comments come as federal and state health officials try to vaccinate as many people as possible to build sufficient immunity in society and get life back to normal.
“I definitely think that comments like that hurt,” Mrs. Capito, of West Virginia, told CNN’s “State of the Union.”
There are multiple reasons to push for widespread vaccinations. Notably, the virus has shown an ability to mutate into more dangerous versions as it continues to transmit and replicate within humans, so widespread immunization could stamp it out before it gets more chances to strengthen and elude available vaccines.
Also, the vaccines are quite effective at staving off disease but are not perfect, meaning there is higher statistical vulnerability if the virus is still raging. And some people — adolescents, for instance — won’t access the vaccines right away, so building societal immunity around them is helpful.
“It’s really about you and your neighbor and that’s what we really have to take into consideration,” Mrs. Capito said.
In explaining himself, Mr. Johnson said part of his concern stems from the fact that the vaccines are being used under an emergency use authorization and not a full biologics license.
“From my standpoint, because it’s not a fully approved vaccine, I think we probably should have limited the distribution to the vulnerable. To people that really aren’t, you know, for the very young, I see no reason to be pushing vaccines on people,” he told the radio program.
Mr. Johnson on Friday told CNN that the government’s role in the process is to “help ensure transparency so that people have as much information as possible to make an informed decision for themselves.”