- Mitch McConnell sought to assign blame to Democrats for the slowing US vaccination rate.
- Polls show that Republicans are less likely to get vaccinated.
- Democrats have blamed anti-vaccine rhetoric from some Republicans and their media allies.
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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday sought to pin blame on President Joe Biden’s administration for the slowing rate of people getting vaccinated against COVID-19 in the US.
In remarks on the Senate floor Monday, McConnell claimed that Joe Biden had taken over a highly successful vaccination program from President Donald Trump.
He also said the Trump deserved credit for the strengthening US economy in the months since Biden took office.
He said: “And after the Biden administration was very eager to claim ownership and spike the football on the vaccination trajectory which they largely inherited from Republican leadership, we’ve now seen vaccination rates in many places plateau on what this White House has been insisting is their watch.”
“This turn toward pessimism is especially stunning and especially sad because President Biden took office with wind at his back.”
“Things were set up for a roaring success like no other presidential transition in recent memory thanks in large part to Operation Warp Speed set up by the prior Congress and administration we had multiple safe and effective vaccines that were beginning to circulate widely through the country,” said McConnell.
McConnell made no mention of the initial slow progress of the vaccine rollouts. Also absent was mention high profile efforts by conservatives to question the safety of the vaccines, led by some Fox News personalities and a group of GOP lawmakers.
Republican leaders including McConnell have urged Americans to get vaccinated, and Trump offered qualified support for the vaccines – but the mixed messages have left Republicans less likely to take the shots.
Biden has faced criticism in some quarters for not communicating the safety of vaccines more effectively, and for what some say is excessively cautious advice public-safety measures.
McConnell’s comments come amid debate in recent weeks about why the US rate of people getting vaccinated is lagging behind that of other developed nations.
The states with the lowest vaccination rates are in the South, traditional Republican strongholds. Polls indicate a partisan divide in the willingness to get vaccinated, with Republicans less likely to say they are planning on getting the shot.
Last week Biden blamed social-media companies for allowing misinformation about vaccines to spread.