House minority whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) Received the COVID-19 vaccine on Sunday after months of waiting, encouraging those who hesitate to get vaccinated amid another growing wave of infections.
In early April, the Louisiana Republican had said he would be vaccinated “soon” and gave the same answer a month later. Scalise finally received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine last weekend at a clinic in Jefferson Parish, according to NOLA.com.
“Especially with the delta variant getting a lot more aggressive and seeing another spike, it was a good time to do it,” the No. 2 House Republican told the outlet in explaining why it took him so long to get vaccinated.
“When you talk to people who run hospitals, in New Orleans or other states, 90% of the people in [the] hospital with [the] the delta variant has not been vaccinated ”, he continued. “That is another sign that the vaccine is working.”
Scalise also said she waited in part because she had tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies and believed she had existing immunity against what was likely a mild case of the virus.
While public health officials have said that antibodies against the virus may provide some protection, they do not replace the COVID-19 vaccine.
New cases of COVID-19 have increased substantially since May thanks to the extremely contagious delta variant. Cases have increased this month, averaging 35,547 new cases as of Monday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The vast majority of new cases are among the unvaccinated, prompting some areas of the country to reestablish public health measures to protect against the spread of the virus.
The Louisiana Department of Health reported Monday that area hospitals have the highest number of COVID-19 patients since February, when the deadly winter surge was beginning to subside. The state is seeing an average of 1,425 new cases per day., a marked increase from the average of 903 cases per day just a week earlier.
Scalise told NOLA.com that vaccination policy was not a factor in her decision. However, former President Donald Trump’s staunch ally has publicly endorsed conspiracy theories that undermine efforts by public health officials to encourage vaccination, including vaccination. unfounded accusation what Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading infectious disease expert, covered up the origin of the virus.
According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll earlier this month, 86% of Democratic respondents said they had received at least one dose of vaccine, compared to 45% of Republican respondents. About 47% of Republican respondents said they are not likely to get vaccinated, compared to 6% of Democrats. Scalise said that while he would encourage people to get vaccinated, he doesn’t think it should be mandatory.
“It is safe and effective,” Scalise said. “It was extensively tested on thousands of people before the FDA gave its approval. Some people believe that it could have been rushed. That is not the case.”
Calling all HuffPost superfans!
Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape the next chapter of HuffPost