WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — House and Senate lawmakers have been among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, joining front line health care workers and the nation’s most vulnerable population.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland, said the minute he was offered the vaccine, he jumped at the opporunity.
“It’s necessary for continuity of government,” he said.
Raskin joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and other congressional leaders in receiving Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine last Friday.
“My job has been to go be there often when Speaker Pelosi couldn’t be in town,” he said.
It’s unclear if all 535 members of Congress will get vaccinated. Several lawmakers have criticized their colleagues for getting the show ahead of the nation’s most at-risk populations.
“Should we be at the front of the line?” Rep. Tom Reed, R-New York, questioned. “No, but we should be in the line so that we can continue to do the job.”
Reed said right now, lawmakers should be primarily focused on the next round of COVID-19 relief, which has been shot down by President Donald Trump. But he also said by receiving the vaccine, lawmakers can continue to do their essential work safely.
Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, said it’s critical for political leaders to convince Americans that the vaccine is safe and effective.
“We want the vaccine to be taken,” Cardin said.
President-elect Joe Biden, and Vice President Mike Pence were among those to get their first doses live on camera.
“There’s nothing to worry about,” Biden said after receiving the shot.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, said the White House should do more to set an example.
“The president and his top staff should get the vaccine ASAP,” he said.
Trump has so far opted not to receive the vaccine and said he will do so at the appropriate time.