At Hearing, Bipartisan Members and Witnesses Urge Americans to Get Vaccinated

Jul 1, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (July 1, 2021) Today, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, chaired by Rep. James E. Clyburn, held a hearing with bipartisan witnesses on combating coronavirus vaccine hesitancy and increasing vaccinations across the country.  During the hearing, witnesses and bipartisan Members of Congress encouraged all Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

 

Chairman Clyburn said in his opening statement:

 

“We are still losing hundreds of Americans to the coronavirus every day.  Nearly all of the more than 8,500 Americans who died from COVID-19 last month were unvaccinated.  If more Americans got their shots, we could reduce coronavirus deaths to nearly zero.  At this critical juncture, we must not lose sight of the work that remains to finally stop the spread of the virus in the United States.  We must undertake dedicated efforts to overcome vaccine hesitancy and redouble our outreach and education, so that we can find a way to convince those who are reluctant of the importance of getting vaccinated.” 

 

Ranking Member Scalise also affirmed that there is bipartisan agreement about the issue, and said:  “All Americans should be assured and confident:  The vaccines were not rushed.  They were built off a platform decades in the making with the best minds in public health and [the] private sector coming together to create world class innovations and breakthroughs in a step-by-step fashion.  If you want to get vaccinated, it is safe, effective, free, and available.”

 

Today’s hearing included testimony from Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association; Dr. Katy Milkman, Professor at the Wharton School of Business; Dr. Jerome Adams, former Surgeon General of the United States; Joshua Garza, a resident of Texas who contracted the coronavirus and had to receive a double lung transplant after originally declining the opportunity to receive a coronavirus vaccine earlier this year; and Sophia Bush, an actress and activist.  Today’s witnesses were invited by Chairman Clyburn and Ranking Member Scalise on a bipartisan basis.

 

Members and witnesses provided the following additional remarks during the hearing:

 

 

There Is Bipartisan Agreement that Coronavirus Vaccines Are Safe, Effective, and Critical to Saving Lives

  • Chairman Clyburn emphasized that combating vaccine hesitancy “is not a partisan issue.  The virus is equally dangerous for Democrats and Republicans, and the vaccines are equally safe and effective for Democrats and Republicans.” 
  • Rep. Bill Foster and Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks each referred to a joint op-ed they co-authored in USA Today to call on more Americans to get vaccinated.  Rep. Foster said, “Vaccines are a public health issue and, as everyone has mentioned, they are not and should not be a partisan issue.”
  • Rep. Miller-Meeks also stressed, “I cannot emphasize how important I think it is to get vaccinated so we can all return to normal.”
  • Dr. Adams highlighted the unprecedented amount of real-world safety data on coronavirus vaccines, explaining that “we have more safety data on it at this point than we’ve had for any other vaccine in history.”
  • Mr. Garza shared his story of turning down an early opportunity to receive a vaccine, and then nearly losing his life to the coronavirus, saying:  “The amount of pain I endured during this ordeal is something that I never want to replicate.  If I could change my decision back in early January to go forward with the vaccination, I would.” 
  • Reflecting on his experience, Mr. Garza urged Americans to get vaccinated:  “I would ask our fellow Americans who are on the fence to think of not only yourself, but also your family and community, to avoid the pain and suffering many families have to go through as many have lost loved ones due to COVID-19.  I have a second chance at life and I intend to share my story as much as I can to help someone save their life.”

 

 

Combating Vaccine Hesitancy Will Take a Multi-Pronged Approach

  • Asked by Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi about strategies that could increase vaccine uptake, Dr. Milkman stated:  “I have been advocating for radical convenience, so whatever we can do to make it feel like the lightest possible lift to get this vaccine.”  She suggested bringing vaccines to students and faculty on college campuses, so that “you wake up, you roll out of bed, and boom it’s done.” 
  • Dr. Benjamin echoed the importance of ensuring access to vaccines, stating that the nation must “make sure that we make it convenient for people to get their vaccine.  That’s extremely important.” 
  • Dr. Milkman also highlighted the importance of educational outreach in reaching those who are on the fence, stating:  “The more we can go to the community and bring the information and expertise to them, the better.”

 

Incentivizing Vaccinations Can Boost Vaccine Uptake

  • Asked by Rep. Nydia Velázquez about approaches to combating vaccine hesitancy, Dr. Benjamin explained that people “respond to targeted incentives that they find valuable.” 
  • In response to a question by Rep. Krishnamoorthi about strategies that are effective in encouraging vaccinate hesitant individuals to get vaccinated, Dr. Milkman said, “Some of the key things that we’ve seen that do work are lotteries.”  She noted:  “There was a 28 percent increase in vaccination among those 16 and up in Ohio, after the announcement of the Ohio Vax-a-Million, and an estimated 50,000 to 80,000 additional doses delivered in the two weeks after that lottery was announced.”

 

We Can and Must Address Low Vaccination Rates Among Young People

  • Asked by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney about what message she had for young Americans who have yet to get vaccinated, Ms. Bush responded, “I understand that there is an air of invincibility at times, especially because in the initial stages of the outbreak of the pandemic we thought that this was something that mostly affected older Americans, that’s simply not true,” but said that the coronavirus vaccines “will save lives and in particular it will allow young people to get back to the futures that they’re pursuing.” 
  • Dr. Adams reinforced the importance of young people getting vaccinated, adding that “getting vaccinated will help them get their lives back to normal.”
  • In response to a question from Rep. Krishnamoorthi about strategies that work especially well in encouraging young people to get vaccinated, Dr. Milkman stated:  “Everyone responds well to hearing from a trusted medical source, so if young people have a doctor they’re used to having conversations with—having those in-depth conversations can be really powerful, as well as just seeing role models.” 

 

 

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Issues: 
117th Congress