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

GOP Rep. Ken BuckKenneth (Ken) Robert BuckProgressive groups warn against appointing tech insiders to key antitrust roles House Republican condemns anti-Trump celebrities during impeachment hearing Pompeo, Cruz and other Trump allies condemn Twitter's ban on president 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. 

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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." 

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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 PelosiOklahoma man who videotaped himself with his feet on desk in Pelosi's office during Capitol riot released on bond House formally sends impeachment to Senate, putting Trump on trial for Capitol riot With another caravan heading North, a closer look at our asylum law MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSchumer: Impeachment trial will be quick, doesn't need a lot of witnesses McConnell: Power-sharing deal can proceed after Manchin, Sinema back filibuster Budowsky: A Biden-McConnell state of emergency summit 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 McCarthyCheney spokesperson on Gaetz: 'In Wyoming, the men don't wear make-up' Biden attends first church service as president in DC, stops at local bagel shop House GOP leader says he has 'concerns' over Cheney's impeachment vote MORE (R-Calif.) said Friday that he expects to get vaccinated soon, as well.

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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 FauciFauci was concerned people would do 'dangerous and foolish' things after Trump suggested injecting disinfectant GOP lawmaker wants to ban feds from funding collection of COVID-19 vaccine info Overnight Health Care: Biden says anyone who wants vaccine may be able to get it by spring | Moderna says vaccine effective on variants, but tests booster shot | California lifts regional stay-at-home order 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.