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Tulsi Gabbard refusing COVID-19 vaccine until elderly Americans receive it, blasts 'CDC bureaucrats'

Retiring Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardFox News says network and anchor Leland Vittert have 'parted ways' New co-chairs named for congressional caucus for millennials Tulsi Gabbard blasts new House rules on gender neutral language as 'height of hypocrisy' MORE (D-Hawaii) said Monday that she would not receive a COVID-19 vaccine until elderly Americans have been vaccinated, while blasting federal health officials for recommending first responders be prioritized over the elderly when it comes to distribution.

Gabbard criticized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a pair of tweets in apparent response, saying "[h]eartless, arrogant, unelected CDC bureaucrats have decided that the lives of elderly Americans don’t count."

"They’re recommending 100 million 'essential workers' (i.e. healthy people working at liquor stores or phone companies) can get the vaccine before our grandparents," wrote Gabbard, a former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.

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"This is immoral and bad health policy," she added. "I had planned to get the vaccine but will now stand in solidarity with our seniors by not doing so until THEY can. I urge my colleagues who are under 65 and healthy to join me."

Gabbard's tweet conflated essential workers — those who were allowed to continue reporting to work during stay-at-home orders — with first responders. The CDC put first responders alongside "high-risk health workers" for early access to the vaccine.

Her office did not immediately return a request for comment.

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Elderly Americans are prioritized in the same group as first responders if they are in high-density living situations such as long-term care facilities, while other seniors are in the second phase and recommended to be vaccinated at the same time as workers deemed "essential" to U.S. industries.

First responders, as identified by the CDC, include law enforcement personnel, EMS workers, firefighters and other emergency workers.

Some members of Congress and senior government officials such as Vice President Pence have been vaccinated in recent days as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for COVID-19 began distribution last week.

All members of Congress have reportedly been advised to schedule an appointment with the Office of the Attending Physician to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Gabbard is slated to leave Congress in early January.