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The GOP governor of Arkansas, where vaccines are lagging and COVID-19 is surging, said it's 'disappointing' vaccines are 'political'

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Asa Hutchinson
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks at a news conference at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015. AP Photo/Danny Johnston
  • Arkansas is among the states seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases, as many residents are unvaccinated.

  • Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said it's "disappointing" that vaccines have become "political."

  • He's been traveling throughout the state to combat hesitancy and encourage people to get the shot.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Thursday it's "disappointing" vaccines have become "political," as his state deals with a COVID-19 surge.

Hutchinson, a Republican, was speaking to Greta Van Susteren on her show "Full Court Press" when the host asked him about the state's low vaccination rate.

"That's a big challenge for us," Hutchinson said, noting that there is lots of vaccine resistance. "It's a conservative state. Sometimes conservatives are hesitant about the government. And we just got to counteract that by getting better information to them, building confidence."

Read more: Don't punish the vaccinated - make it harder to choose to be unvaccinated

In Arkansas, 35.9% of the state's population has been fully vaccinated, while 45.2% has received at least one dose. That leaves the state with one of the lowest vaccination rates per capita. Only Alabama and Mississippi have a smaller percentage of fully vaccinated residents, according to CDC data compiled by the Mayo Clinic.

Susteren asked Hutchinson about how vaccine hesitancy happens along political lines.

"It is disappointing that there's a political part to this," he said.

Vaccine hesitancy has been especially prominent among Republicans and in counties that voted for former President Donald Trump.

But Hutchinson said he both supported Trump and got the vaccine, and noted that Trump himself is also vaccinated. He also said that in Arkansas, where more than 65% of the vote went to Trump, tens of thousands of people had already gotten the vaccine.

Arkansas is among the states seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases as the Delta variant rapidly spreads. Hutchinson has been traveling around the state to address vaccine hesitancy and encourage people to get vaccinated, NPR reported.

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at kvlamis@insider.com.

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