GOP congressman says he's more worried about COVID-19 vaccine than disease itself

GOP Rep. Ken BuckKenneth (Ken) Robert BuckSununu exit underscores uncertain GOP path to gain Senate majority Matt Stoller: Amazon's Bezos likely lied under oath before Congress Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Agencies sound alarm over ransomware targeting agriculture groups MORE (Colo.) this week said he will not be taking the coronavirus vaccine, explaining that he is “more concerned about the safety of the vaccine” than the “side effects of the disease.” 

“It is my choice,” Buck told Fox Business host Neil Cavuto on Friday. “I’m an American and I have the freedom to decide if I’m going to take a vaccine or not and, in this case, I’m not going to take the vaccine.”

The comments come as both health officials and social media companies alike are attempting to combat misinformation on the safety of the vaccine, with health experts saying that at least 70 percent of the country needs to be vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity and end the outbreak that has infected more than 17.4 million Americans and killed more than 300,000. 

ADVERTISEMENT

However, Buck said on Friday, “I’m more concerned about the safety of the vaccine than I am the side effects of the disease.” 

“I’m a healthy person and I think most Americans are healthy,” the 61-year-old GOP congressman continued. “I think what we should do is we should focus on the at-risk populations in America, make sure those are the people that get this vaccine first. Make sure that the health care workers who want the vaccine get the vaccine as soon as possible.

“But, I am not going to take a vaccine,” Buck repeated. 

“I think it is one of those issues that Americans have to make that decision for themselves and I hope that we don’t get to the point where either corporations or the government are requiring this vaccine. I think that is a terrible mistake in this country,” he added. 

Buck tweeted on Friday that the coronavirus vaccine is "an incredible feat that should be applauded," adding that he encourages "frontline workers, healthcare professionals, and at-risk populations to get the vaccine" first and that "members of Congress should not get special treatment." 

ADVERTISEMENT

A spokesperson for Buck reiterated these sentiments in a statement to The Hill Saturday, writing that Buck "doesn’t think that members of Congress should skip the line and receive the vaccine before our front line workers."

"He encourages those at risk to get the vaccine immediately," the spokesperson added. 

Health care workers and politicians this week started receiving the first doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, which final data showed to be 95 percent effective at preventing COVID-19. 

Both House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi says she's open to stock trading ban for Congress Manchin: Biden spending plan talks would start 'from scratch' Reps. Massie, Grijalva test positive for COVID-19 MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden stiff arms progressives on the Postal Service Biden clarifies any Russian movement into Ukraine 'is an invasion' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks, Senate balks MORE (R-Ky.) received the vaccine Friday. 

"Just received the safe, effective COVID vaccine following continuity-of-government protocols. Vaccines are how we beat this virus," McConnell tweeted. 

Earlier on Friday, Vice President Pence was vaccinated on camera. President-elect Biden">Joe Biden is expected to publicly receive the vaccine on Monday.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHouse GOP leaders vow to end proxy voting despite widespread use among Republicans Jan. 6 committee asks Ivanka Trump to sit for interview How Kevin McCarthy sold his soul to Donald Trump MORE (R-Calif.) said Friday that he expects to get vaccinated soon, as well.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday authorized a second vaccine from Moderna for emergency use. Moderna’s vaccine has shown to have a similar efficacy rate to the one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. 

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciLet's stop saying 'breakthrough cases' — it isn't helping The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Voting rights week for Democrats (again) Trump-DeSantis tensions ratchet up MORE, the country's top infectious diseases doctor, said in a Dec. 15 NPR interview that as many people as possible should get a coronavirus vaccine, adding that “it would be terrible, with a tool as good as that, if people don't utilize that tool.”

Updated at 1:50 p.m.