BY JOSEPH CHOI
Tuesday December 22, 2020
© Bonnie Cash
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) broke with other members of "the squad" on Monday by deciding to not get a coronavirus vaccine available to members of Congress, saying it was “shameful” that political leaders got the vaccine due to their “importance.”
Anand Giridharadas, publisher of the political newsletter The.Ink, tweeted on Sunday, “Serious question. Is seemingly our entire top political leadership getting the vaccine ahead of others because of their age or their importance??”
“It would makes sense if it was age, but unfortunately it’s of importance and its shameful,” responded Omar in a retweet of Giridharadas’s question. “We are not more important then frontline workers, teachers etc. who are making sacrifices everyday. Which is why I won’t take it. People who need it most, should get it. Full stop.”
Outgoing Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) also said earlier Monday that she would not be getting the vaccine until after elderly Americans were immunized.
Other members of "the squad," a group of four progressive lawmakers all elected to Congress in 2018, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), have gotten the vaccine and encouraged others to take it once it becomes widely available.
Ocasio-Cortez also replied to Giridharadas’s tweet, writing, “The actual answer to your question lies in the National Security Council, which is where that decision was made in compliance with Presidential Policy Directive-40. That policy was put in place in 2016 and established certain requirements for continuity of governance.”
As the first Somali American to be elected to Congress, Omar's refusal to get the vaccine could discourage others in the Somali American community from getting it, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes there is already a hesitancy among its members.
Ocasio-Cortez detailed the vaccine live on her Instagram account on Saturday, explaining that members of Congress are "urged to take it" as part of the "continuity of governance plan."
Other high-ranking political leaders have been vaccinated, including Vice President Pence, who received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine along with second lady Karen Pence
“I am doing this to demonstrate that people should be prepared when it’s available to take the vaccine,” said Biden. “There’s nothing to worry about.”
Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, is expected to receive the first dose of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine along with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Tuesday.