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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Some GOP lawmakers and media figures have been making a point to be publicly supportive of coronavirus vaccines as the Delta variant rips through parts of the country with low vaccination rates.

Why it matters: Vaccine resistance is much higher among Republicans than Democrats, and some party leaders have been openly hostile to the U.S. vaccination effort despite the effectiveness of the shots.

Driving the news: Members of House GOP leadership and the GOP Doctors Caucus are having a press conference this morning to "discuss the need for individuals to get vaccinated, uncover the origins of the pandemic, and keep schools and businesses open," per a press release.

  • Attendees include Reps. Elise Stefanik and Steve Scalise, who received his first shot of the vaccine last weekend.
  • “Especially with the delta variant becoming a lot more aggressive and seeing another spike, it was a good time to do it,” Scalise told NOLA.com.

Other prominent conservatives have also spoken up about the merits of the vaccine this week.

  • “It absolutely makes sense for many Americans to get vaccinated. I believe in science. I believe in the science of vaccinations," Fox News' Sean Hannity said on his show Monday.
  • “These shots need to get in everybody’s arm as rapidly as possible, or we’re going to be back in a situation in the fall that we don’t yearn for, that we went through last year,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday.

The big picture: Among the unvaccinated — who are disproportionately likely to be Republican or live in red counties and states — the pandemic is far from over.

Yes, but: Even among supporters of the vaccine, messaging can be confusing or contradictory.

  • Hannity followed up his Monday pro-vaccine statement with an interview with a woman protesting her college’s vaccine requirement, per AP, and other Fox hosts have continued to criticize the vaccine or the vaccination effort.
  • Governors and state lawmakers have passed or are pushing measures that would prohibit vaccine requirements and protect the unvaccinated from "discrimination."

What Trump's saying: The former president's latest statement regarding the vaccines didn't exactly encourage them.

  • "People are refusing to take the Vaccine because they don't trust [Biden's] Administration, they don't trust the Election results, and they certainly don't trust the Fake News, which is refusing to tell the Truth," Trump said last weekend.

The bottom line: The vast majority of Americans who are still dying from the virus are unvaccinated, and it's ultimately not in anyone's best interest for political figures to dissuade their followers from getting the vaccine.

Go deeper

Oct 30, 2021 - Health

Texas AG sues Biden administration over vaccine mandate for contractors

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas on July 11. Photo: Dylan Hollingsworth/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing the Biden administration over its vaccine mandate for federal contractors, which requires vaccination against the coronavirus no later than Dec. 8.

What they're saying: The executive order is "a dramatic infringement upon individual liberties, principles of federalism and separation of powers, and the rule of law," according to the lawsuit, which was filed Friday evening in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Updated 14 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker
Oct 29, 2021 - Health

Supreme Court declines to block enforcement of Maine's vaccine mandate for health workers

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday declined to block enforcement of Maine's COVID vaccine mandate for health care workers while they wait for the court of appeals to rule on the merits of the case.

Why it matters: The 6-3 decision in the emergency appeal was not made on the merits of the case. But in previous rulings, the justices have upheld COVID vaccine requirements — though this is the first case that involves a mandate without religious exemptions.