Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top disease expert in the U.S., drew ire on social media Wednesday when he wrote off vaccine hesitancy as a purely political statement.
Fauci gave an interview to MSNBC and talked about how important it is for Americans to get vaccinated. He said vaccines help protect the person receiving the jab, and well as family members and the community. He expressed frustration with those who continue to refuse the shots that he called highly effective and safe.
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“You’ve gotta ask: What is the problem?” he said. “Get over it. Get over this political statement. Just get over it and try and save the lives of yourself and your family.”
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Fauci, as the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has tried to portray himself as an apolitical figure tasked only with preventing as many deaths as possible. His supporters have praised him for his magnanimity in the effort, and he even once said that an attack on him is an attack on science itself.
This is not Fauci’s first foray into the political discourse. Last April, he tied gun violence to public health in the country.
“When you see people getting killed, I mean, in this last month, it’s just been horrifying what’s happened. How can you say that’s not a public health issue?”
His detractors seized on the “get over it” comment and saw it as a flash of his contempt for Americans with legitimate fear of vaccines that are still being used under Emergency Use Authorization.
Fauci’s NIAID did not immediately respond to an after-hours email from Fox News.
“My advice to Fauci: get over it. If you don’t want the vaccine you have the right to make that decision,” one Twitter commenter said. “If you have the vaccine you shouldn’t care.”
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Fauci said in a recent interview that vaccines are effective in preventing COVID-19 and said about 99.2% of the U.S. deaths in June were unvaccinated individuals, and about 0.8% were vaccinated.