Former Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PencePence says he hopes conservative majority on Supreme Court will restrict abortion access Federal judge to hear case of Proud Boy alleged Jan. 6 rioter seeking release from jail The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems attempt to tie government funding, Ida relief to debt limit MORE on Wednesday urged young conservatives to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as the country grapples with rising case counts amid the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.
"Now let me say this about the vaccine: I got the shot. My family got the shot. And I want to encourage anyone here who hasn’t gotten the shot who’s eligible to go get it. And if you’re not sure about it, go ask your doctor and get the very best advice you can," Pence told the Young America's Foundation's National Conservative Student Conference.
The direct call from Pence to young Republicans to get vaccinated comes as younger Americans in particular have shown resistance to getting the shot. And it was a notable plea from a top-ranking Trump administration official as red states see their vaccination rates lag behind other parts of the country.
Pence, who led the White House coronavirus task force last year, boasted of the success of Operation Warp Speed, the initiative under the Trump administration that cut regulatory red tape to rapidly develop and test the COVID-19 vaccines last year before they received emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.
And the former vice president argued the vaccines should help prevent the U.S. from imposing economic restrictions like the ones that were common last year and while the virus raged during the winter.
"As we do our part, each and every one of us, to put this pandemic in the past, we need to also stand firm on the principle that we can defeat this virus without lockdowns and mandates," Pence said to applause. "We can protect the vulnerable and get our kids back to school. And we can keep America open without forfeiting our freedoms."
Pence received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on camera in December in an effort to instill public confidence in the shot. He was joined at the time by his wife and then-Surgeon General Jerome AdamsJerome AdamsFormer surgeon general: 'Unconscionable' for states to ban mask mandates Former Trump surgeon general says politicians are 'taking tools' away from public health offices Pence urges young conservatives to get COVID-19 vaccine MORE.
Former President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 committee chair says panel will issue a 'good number' of additional subpoenas Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Pentagon officials prepare for grilling Biden nominates head of Africa CDC to lead global AIDS response MORE has scarcely used his massive platform to encourage his supporters to get vaccinated, despite privately getting the shot himself in January.
The U.S. is grappling with a spike in COVID-19 cases as the delta variant accounts for more than 90 percent of infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Biden administration officials have pleaded with Americans to get vaccinated against the virus, arguing it is the most effective and surest way to bring the pandemic to an end.