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Steve Scalise. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) got his first dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine Sunday, calling it "safe and effective," Nola reports.

Driving the news: Scalise said that his decision to get vaccinated was driven by the spread of the Delta variant, which he noted was "aggressive" as well as a recent spike in case numbers.

  • Scalise had waited to get vaccinated because he had earlier tested positive for anti-bodies and believed he subsequently had a degree of immunity, Nola reports.

Why it matters: A number of public opinion polls have shown Republicans have been among the most vaccine-hesitant group in the country, and some have urged public officials to more publicly encourage constituents to get inoculated.

What they're saying: “It’s safe and effective,” Scalise said of the vaccine, per Nola. “It was heavily tested on thousands of people before the FDA gave its approval. Some people believe that it might have been rushed. That’s not the case."

  • “Especially with the delta variant becoming a lot more aggressive and seeing another spike, it was a good time to do it,” he said.
  • “When you talk to people who run hospitals, in New Orleans or other states, 90% of people in hospital with delta variant have not been vaccinated. That’s another signal the vaccine works.”

Go deeper

Sep 24, 2021 - Health

Moderna CEO: Pandemic could be over in a year

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel. Photo: Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel told the Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung on Thursday he thinks the COVID-19 pandemic could be over in a year due to increases in vaccine production, per Reuters.

What he's saying: "If you look at the industry-wide expansion of production capacities over the past six months, enough doses should be available by the middle of next year so that everyone on this Earth can be vaccinated," Bancel said.

Everyone wants to be an influencer

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The number of people looking to become online influencers has exploded during the pandemic.

Why it matters: Almost anyone can find themselves in a position to become an influencer, and brands are throwing billions of dollars at online content creators.

At least 3 dead after Amtrak train derails in Montana

Photo: Jacob Cordeiro/Twitter

An Amtrak train derailed near Joplin, Montana, resulting in at least three deaths and multiple injuries to passengers and crew on Saturday, per authorities and a company statement.

The big picture: 141 passengers and 16 crew members were estimated to be on the Empire Builder train, traveling from Chicago to Seattle and Portland, when eight of the 10 cars derailed about 4p.m., Amtrak said early Sunday.