Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is launching an ad campaign to encourage residents of his state to get vaccinated as more and more Republicans have become increasingly vocal about the need for their communities to get the vaccines and stop the spread of Covid-19.
The senator will run ads on more than 100 local Kentucky radio stations beginning in the days ahead, an effort that comes in sharp contrast to some other members of his party who have sharply denounced any vaccine outreach efforts.
Mr McConnell detailed the effort in an interview with Reuters, explaining that the ad campaign will be funded by his massive campaign war chest.
“Not enough people are vaccinated”, Mr McConnell told the news service. “So we’re trying to get them to reconsider and get back on the path to get us to some level of herd immunity”.
He also blamed the ongoing issue of disinformation about vaccines and Covid-19 itself for hesitancy amongst some Americans towards the jabs.
“There is bad advice out there, you know. Apparently you see that all over the place: people practicing medicine without a license, giving bad advice. And that bad advice should be ignored,” he said.
Republicans have been battling a public image of being the anti-vaccine party largely due to some outspoken conservatives in the media and various levels of government questioning the need for vaccinations, refusing to say whether or not they are vaccinated, and strong opposition to so-called “vaccine passports”, or documents indicating whether or not someone has been vaccinated.
Former President Donald Trump himself has come under criticism for not being vocal enough about encouraging Americans to get vaccinated, even as the vaccines were developed while his administration pursued a very public effort to fund and expedite their creation. Some of his allies have referred to the jabs as the “Trump vaccine” in efforts to convince his most ardent supporters, many of whom show strong hesitancy towards getting vaccinated.
The strong hesitancy in many conservative communities has led to frustration from some GOP state leaders, including Alabama’s Kay Ivey who called on the media and others to blame unvaccinated Americans for the continued persistence of Covid-19 in the US in an interview last week.
Mr McConnell praised those comments in his interview with Reuters, as well as others Ms Ivey made encouraging vaccinations in aWashington Post op-ed.
“I was encouraged by what the governor of Alabama said,” he told the news outlet.