Top conservatives make an about-face on vaccines, will more people decide to get shots?

U.S. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (Republican of Louisiana) speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, Tuesday, July 20, 2021. Scalise got vaccinated against COVID on Sunday. Credit: Rod Lamkey/CNP/Sipa USA.

Steve Scalise, the second highest ranking Republican in the House, got vaccinated against COVID on Sunday. He said today outside the Capitol: “We’ve expressed confidence in the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. ... I would encourage people to get the vaccine.”

Fox News’ Sean Hannity said on Monday: “Please take COVID seriously. I can’t say it enough. … We don’t need any more deaths.” That was a stark about-face from a host on a network that spent more than a year downplaying the pandemic.

David Graham, staff writer for The Atlantic, says the timing of Republican support for vaccination is confounding. “It's a little bit strange to me though, because while there is a rising risk from Delta, there has also been a risk to the pandemic all along. We haven't seen the same sort of worry and the same sort of urgency around messaging that we're seeing now.”