With the delta variant on the rise and hospitals filling up again, some top-level Republicans are urging holdouts to get vaccinated.
Former President Donald Trump spoke about the vaccine at a rally with supporters in Phoenix on Saturday. While he touted his achievements in getting the vaccine developed, he told his supporters, “I recommend you take it, but I also believe in your freedoms 100%. But it was a great achievement, a great achievement.”
Trumps's endorsement comes in the wake of much stronger words from other high-level Republicans who are recommending that people get vaccinated.
“These shots need to be in everybody’s arm as rapidly as possible,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader from Kentucky.
Representative Steve Scalise, the House Minority Whip from Louisiana, showed a photograph of himself getting the vaccine: “It’s safe and effective. I took it, and I wanted to show the picture to just encourage people.”
“I’m thrilled that the Republicans have come out and said that people should be immunized and there’s no reason your political affiliation should enter into your decision to get the vaccine,” said Dr. Stephen Spector, who is a UC San Diego Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics and chief of the division of pediatric infectious diseases
Spector said the new messaging adds to the confusion, however, and that he wished it came out earlier.
“We wish that they would have come out six to eight months earlier and said this, but at this point, anyway, that we can get people immunized is going to benefit us all,” Spector said.
“This gap between the parties grew increasingly large, and there could be a chance for it to narrow again, as you see a different reality on the ground and a different message from the GOP," said UCSD political science professor Thad Kousser.
Is the new messaging too little too late or better late than never?
“All I can ask them now is: Your people are telling you to get immunized and it will benefit you and your family and all the rest of us,' ” Spector said.
“Absolutely better late than never," Kousser said. "This is an evolving pandemic. It will be with us for a long time. There is still time to change course."