Ron Johnson questions government's "big push to make sure everybody gets a vaccine"
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said Thursday that because the COVID-19 vaccines are not fully approved by the FDA, the U.S. government "probably should have limited the distribution to the vulnerable" — questioning the "big push to make sure everybody gets a vaccine."
Why it matters: Vaccine hesitancy — especially among white Republicans — is viewed as one of the major barriers to reaching herd immunity in the U.S. and bringing the pandemic to an end.
Driving the news: Johnson told Wisconsin conservative radio host Vicki McKenna that he supported Operation Warp Speed and acknowledged that the "the science tells us that vaccines are 95% effectives," but then added: "So if you have a vaccine, quite honestly what do you care if your neighbor has one or not? What is it to you?"
- Health experts have cautioned that it's still not clear whether the vaccine fully reduces transmission of the virus, meaning it's important to continue taking precautions around unvaccinated people.
- The CDC also recently published an analysis finding that an unvaccinated worker at a Kentucky nursing home caused "breakthrough" infections among vaccinated staff and residents, underscoring the importance of widespread vaccine uptake among the American public.
The big picture: Johnson echoed Republican criticisms of "vaccine passports," condemning the idea as "freedom-robbing" and suggesting that COVID — like climate change — is being wielded by Democrats as a way to exert control.
- "[W]hy this big push to make sure everybody gets a vaccine, to the point where you better impose it, you're going to shame people, you're going to force them to carry a card to prove that they've been vaccinated so they can participate in society?" Johnson asked.
- "I'm getting highly suspicious of what's happening here," he added.
Go deeper: Assaulting the Truth, Ron Johnson Helps Erode Confidence in Government (N.Y. Times)