A South Dakota lawmaker is asking his constituents to decide when he should receive the COVID-19 vaccine

·3 min read
Dusty Johnson
South Dakota Republican Rep. Dusty Johnson speaks during a press conference about COVID-19 in September 2020. Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
  • South Dakota Rep. Dusty Johnson, a Republican, on Friday said he would allow his constituents to vote whether he got the COVID-19 vaccine now or waited to receive it until it was widely available.

  • He noted that high profile politicians, including Vice President Mike Pence, have received the vaccine publicly to instill confidence that it is safe.

  • Johnson, the only member of the US House of Representatives from South Dakota, said there were "good arguments can be made on both sides" as to whether he should receive early access to the vaccine or wait to receive it.

  • The vaccine is not expected to be widely available to all who want it until later next year, and health experts have emphasized the importance of continuing other mitigation measures.

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Rep. Dusty Johnson, South Dakota's lone member of the US House of Representatives, on Friday asked his constituents to vote in a poll to decide whether he got early access to the COVID-19 vaccine or should wait until it's more widely available.

"We have the COVID-19 vaccine, and that's a critically important development in the fight against the pandemic," Johnson, a Republican, said in a video posted to Twitter on Friday. "Now the attending physician of the House has made the vaccine available to members of Congress. I will get the vaccine but the question is when."

He continued: "Some political leaders like Vice President Mike Pence are going early to increase confidence in the vaccine and model good behavior. Other leaders are holding off, not wanting to go to the front of the line."

On Friday morning, Vice President Mike Pence, his wife second lady Karen Pence, and US Surgeon General Jerome Adams were publicly injected with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which last week was authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use.

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On Saturday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a prominent Democrat from New York, shared on social media photos and video of her receiving the vaccine, telling her followers she would "never, ever ask you to do something I wasn't willing to do myself."

The Biden transition team said President-elect Joe Biden and incoming first lady Jill Biden will receive the first dose of the two-shot vaccine on Monday. Vice President Kamala Harris will receive the first shot the following week, according to the Biden-Harris team.

In the video, Johnson said he could "make responsible and reasonable arguments on both sides of the issue," calling for a statewide discussion, and ultimately, providing a link to a two-question poll that asks South Dakotans to decide if Johnson should take the vaccine now to "instill public confidence" or "wait [his] turn."

While vaccine distribution plans are up to state governments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued guidance recommending that healthcare workers and at-risk populations, like those living in nursing homes, receive the vaccine.


Health experts and public officials have stressed that the vaccine will not be widely available to those who want it until later next year, urging for the public to continue mitigation measures, like face coverings and physical distancing, as the US grapples with its ongoing surge of the disease across the country.

Still, despite the shortage, some public officials have been rushed to the front of the line in an attempt to instill confidence that the vaccine is safe amid baseless conspiracy theories and concerns from the US population.


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