Republican leaders push for followers to get COVID-19 vaccines

DeSantis, Hannity and several GOP lawmakers promote vaccination as numbers vary by party

"While we believe in personal choice and believe in personal responsibility, we also have to understand the benefits that the vaccines have," says Rene Garcia, Miami-Dade County’s GOP chair.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Miami-Dade’s GOP chair says there is no coordinated message change from the Republican party, but a stronger push to make clear that COVID-19 vaccines are not only safe and effective but necessary.

“We see that the numbers are growing and as a party ... while we believe in personal choice and believe in personal responsibility, we also have to understand the benefits that the vaccines have,” Rene Garcia said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis echoed the same message this week, as did conservative firebrand Sean Hannity.

“If you are vaccinated, fully vaccinated, the chance of you getting seriously ill or dying from COVID is effectively zero, DeSantis said Wednesday.

[ALSO SEE: How many COVID-19 patients in South Florida were vaccinated?]

The publicly vaccine-hesitant Louisiana congressman Steve Scalise also changed his tune.

“I’ve been vaccinated,” he said earlier this week. “Many of my colleagues have been vaccinated. And the vaccine is safe, effective and it’s widely available all across the United States of America for anybody who wants to get it. And so I still have yet to hear Kamala Harris or Joe Biden apologize for publicly criticizing the vaccine, which they did many, many times.”

Republicans in Congress with medical backgrounds now star in a public service announcement promoting vaccination.

“We’re seeing some Republicans realize that this is such a grave issue,” said Sean Foreman, a professor of political science at Bary University. “They are seeing a lot of people get sick and even dying, and so you need a new message.”

[ALSO SEE: COVID patients show regret about masks, vaccines as hospitals fill up]

An ABC News poll shows the political gulf between the vaccinated: 86% of Democrats, 45% of Republicans.

Among those who would “probably decline” to get one are 6% of Democrats and 47% of Republicans.

Local 10 News asked Garcia, the Miami-Dade GOP chair, why he thinks that is.

“I think it goes back to Republicans tend to be those that believe in personal responsibility and limited government and that may be where it comes from,” he said.

Garcia said he is brainstorming ways of getting the message about vaccines out to more Republicans in South Florida.

For information on where COVID-19 vaccines are available in South Florida, click here.

About the Author:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."