OP-ED: Hypocritical Politicians Shouldn’t Be Getting the Vaccine

With Frontline Workers Still Without Vaccinations, is it Really Fair to Give Vaccines to Politicians?

Jack Tirsch, Editorial Director, Junior

Frontline workers and hospital staff have sacrificed their own health and wellbeing over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, now that a vaccine for the Coronavirus has been developed and is in the process of being distributed, another group is leapfrogging to the front of the line to receive it. Many politicians have been receiving their vaccines despite the fact that they do not work in threatening health conditions. In contrast, some frontline workers, such as doctors, nurses, and EMTs, are working 13 hour shifts while coming in close contact with COVID-infected patients and still have not received their immunization. With limited stock of COVID vaccines from both Moderna and Pfizer, is it really in the United States’ best interest to allow politicians to receive the vaccine instead of frontline workers who are the ones most at risk working in close proximity with COVID patients? To add insult to injury, many of these self-same politicians who have been receiving their vaccine dosage have downplayed the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic for months. That said, the U.S. government should be more deliberate with their decisions regarding who should receive the first batches of the vaccine. 

These politicians’ decisions have sparked a controversial debate among the American people. Additionally, it is worth noting many politicians’ previous stance toward the pandemic. Some, such as Lindsey Graham, Mike Pence, and Marco Rubio have downplayed, politicized, and disregarded the impact that the pandemic has had on communities and people’s wellbeing. For instance, Pence and Rubio have both attended mass rallies and events without wearing masks. Of course, this isn’t limited to one side of the political aisle. Other politicians such as Nancy Pelosi, and President-elect Joe Biden have already received their dosages as well. But these politicians have at least acknowledged the threat of COVID and have publicly worn masks, and socially distanced as opposed to the COVID-deniers.

At least one representative from Florida, Val Demings, agrees, and she was not shy about vocalizing her opinion.

“It’s interesting to watch my GOP colleagues who previously refused to wear a mask or practice social distancing, and attended super-spreader events, jump in line to get vaccinated. Shameless,” Demings said.

Another congressional representative, Ilhan Omar, of Minnesota, who lost her father to the virus, remarked that it was “disturbing to see members be first to get vaccines while most frontline workers, elderly and infirm in our districts, wait.”

As the government obtains more doses of the vaccine, frontline and healthcare workers should be prioritized to be vaccinated.

With the COVID-19 raging on in the U.S. for almost a year now, the pandemic has been politicized and downplayed by several people with critical roles in the government. Politicians such as Marco Rubio who are healthy, relatively young, and have not abided by health and safety guidelines, have already received the vaccine.

One politician who has also been vaccinated, Representative Don Beyer of Virginia, at least has a purpose behind his actions that goes beyond selfishness. He hopes to “lead by example.” By being one of the first to try the vaccine, he wants to erase skepticism for those who are opposed to or afraid of taking the shot. 

The vaccination process must be handled with extreme care and consideration as almost 400,000 people have died in the U.S. due to this pandemic. Frontline and healthcare workers have been sacrificing their own lives to save others for almost a year now, so they should be prioritized to receive the initial deliveries of the COVID vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. While politicians do have a great influence over the American people, they should receive their vaccines with their corresponding age and health groups like all other citizens. Protect the lives of those who protect others.