On April 23, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) joined Vicki McKenna on her podcast to discuss the COVID-19 vaccine. On the show, he told McKenna that there is “no reason to be pushing vaccines on people.” Tara Golshan reports here:
Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who himself declined a COVID-19 vaccine, is now questioning why the American population needs to get vaccinated en masse, putting life-saving public health messaging at risk.
“Why is this big push to make sure everyone gets a vaccine?” Johnson said in an appearance on conservative talk radio host Vicki McKenna’s show this week, adding that he was “highly suspicious” of the effort to mass vaccinate the general public.
Johnson said he sees “no reason to be pushing vaccines on people,” saying their distribution should have been focused only at the most vulnerable populations.
“If you have a vaccine, quite honestly, what do you care if your neighbor has one or not?” Johnson asked. He also questioned the efficacy of the vaccines themselves, saying they were not “fully approved” — while also arguing that not everyone needed to receive one because they are so effective.
Three vaccines have been authorized by the federal government (though distribution of the Johnson & Johnson shot was briefly paused by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration last week), all of which have gone through clinical studies with tens of thousands of participants. They were authorized for distribution through a fast-tracked emergency use process.
Johnson expanded on his comments in a statement to HuffPost.
“Everyone should have the right to gather information, consult with their doctor and decide for themselves whether to get vaccinated,” he said. “I believe government’s role (and therefore my role) is to help ensure transparency so that people have as much information as possible to make an informed decision for themselves.”
Johnson added that he had supported Operation Warp Speed, the vaccine-development program spearheaded by former President Donald Trump, and “celebrated its astonishingly rapid success,” but also cast doubt about the vaccines it helped produce.
“It is a legitimate question as to whether people at very low risk of suffering serious illness from Covid, particularly the young and healthy, should be encouraged to take a vaccine that is being administered under an Emergency Use Authorization,” Johnson said in the statement to HuffPost.
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