Jul 17, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Arkansas GOP governor embarks on state-wide tour to encourage vaccinations

rkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, testifies during Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Dirksen Building titled Examining Federal Sentencing for Crack and Powder Cocaine, on Tuesday, June 22, 2021.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on June 22. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas is traveling around the state and meeting face-to-face with residents in an effort to combat vaccine hesitancy as COVID-19 cases rise and vaccinations remain low, AP reports.

Why it matters: Hutchinson's statewide vaccination tour — which has drawn skepticism and in some cases, hostility from residents — distinguishes the governor from other Republican elected leaders, who often portray health leaders as adversaries even as they try to bring down cases, per AP.

The big picture: Hutchinson, who took over as head of the National Governors Association this month, has made combating vaccine resistance a priority.

  • He has urged the Food and Drug Administration to grant full approval to vaccines instead of emergency authorization, a move he says would counter one of the prevailing arguments by vaccine opponents, per AP.
  • Arkansas has the highest rate of new COVID-19 cases in the United States and about 35% of the state's population has been fully vaccinated, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: In his meetings with residents, Hutchinson seeks to empathize and understand why an individual may be against getting the vaccine. He also encourages individuals to heed advice from their own doctors and medical professionals, not conspiracy theories.

  • "Let me make sure it’s clear: I’m not asking you to trust government," Hutchinson told a group of residents. "I’m asking you to look at, do your own research, talk to people that you trust, and that to me is the right approach."

Go deeper: Arkansas governor working to reverse vaccination trends

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