Fauci praises GOP encouraging vaccines: 'A very good thing'

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciIt's time for Fauci to go — but don't expect it to happen The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Budget negotiators: 72 hours and counting CDC director urges Americans to go outside, 'enjoy your trick-or-treating' MORE said Republicans who are now encouraging Americans to get vaccinated are doing “a very good thing” to help stop the spread of COVID-19 as well as misinformation about vaccines.

In an interview with The Hill, the president's chief medical adviser said he was glad to hear some top GOP leaders be more outspoken in recent days about the importance of receiving the life-saving vaccine.

The top immunologist was especially pleased by House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseAnti-Trump Republicans target McCarthy, Scalise, other high-profile conservatives The 9 Republicans who voted to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — US cracks down on tools for foreign hacking MORE’s (R-La.) new remarks. Scalise revealed that he got his initial dose of Pfizer over the weekend, citing an uptick in cases linked to the delta variant. He called the shot “safe and effective.”

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On Thursday, Scalise, the second-highest GOP member of the House, went a step further by explicitly instructing people to protect themselves.

“I would encourage people to get the vaccine,” he said during an outdoor press event with fellow Republican officeholders.

To Fauci, it was a welcome message.

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“I was very pleased to hear Congressman Scalise ... make that statement about vaccines,” he said. “That was very helpful.”

For months, many Republicans have downplayed the public health benefits of getting vaccinated. Some GOP lawmakers have even been accused of spreading misinformation online. There is currently no unified message from the party.

Asked if Scalise's public posture might help persuade others who may have been reluctant to take their first or second dose, Fauci suggested it’s a “positive” development in the dialogue.

“There’s no doubt when you look at the distribution of unvaccinated people it certainly weighs very much more heavily towards Republicans in red states,” he said.

“I think when they see a Republican leader like Congressman Scalise lean strongly towards people getting vaccinated, I think that’s a very positive thing," he added.