WASHINGTON - The top U.S. infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, on Sunday deplored the political split in the country about getting vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Polls show that Democrats, who generally are more liberal in their support of government programs, are much more inclined to get inoculated than Republicans, who often hold more skepticism about government actions and conservative views supporting individual rights.
One recent poll showed 93% of people who identify as Democrats say they have been vaccinated or intend to get shots in their arms, while only 49% of Republicans said they have or plan to.
Fauci told ABC News’s “This Week” show, “We’re trying to put politics aside. Viruses don’t know the difference between a Democrat and a Republican or an independent.”
“We’ve got to get away from the divisiveness,” said Fauci, President Joe Biden’s top medical adviser.
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He said the available vaccines in the U.S. have been proven effective.
Fauci said he understands that some conservatives, often in southern U.S. states that voted for former President Donald Trump, a Republican, over Democrat Biden in last November’s election, are reluctant to get shots because health regulators have only approved the vaccines for emergency use and have yet to give them a full stamp of approval.
But Fauci said there was “no doubt in my mind (they) will get full approval.”
In the meantime, he said, “The benefit (of being vaccinated) is definitely worth the risk.” Fauci said the available vaccines are also working well against what he described as the “nasty [Delta] variant” first found in India that has taken hold in some U.S. communities.
Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, a state with a low vaccination rate, said there is “clearly conservative skepticism about government” that has to be “overcome by truth” about the effectiveness of the vaccines.
Hutchinson told ABC that those who get vaccinated, in addition to being protected against the coronavirus, also have the benefit of no longer needing to wear a face mask.
He said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “has it right. If you’re vaccinated, you don’t have to wear a mask.”
In the U.S., the CDC reports 67.5% of adults have received at least one shot of the typical two-shot vaccination regimen and 58.7% are fully vaccinated.