Rep. Bustos asks Dr. Fauci for advice convincing Stateline communities to get COVID-19 vaccine

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(WTVO) — On Tuesday, 17th District Rep. Cheri Bustos discussed vaccine hesitancy in rural communities with Dr. Anthony Fauci and other National Institutes of Health officials during a Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Subcommittee hearing.

According to a recent Gallup poll, some of the top reasons people aren’t getting vaccinated include:

  • Desire for more evidence of its safety
  • Belief that the virus will not seriously impact them
  • Belief that since they already were infected with the virus, they do not need it

The hesitancy is more prevalent in rural America than in densely populated areas — a recent Kaiser poll found that 21% of rural residents would “definitely not” get a vaccine, compared with just 10% of urban residents.

“We need as many people to become vaccinated as possible and to do that, we must address vaccine hesitancy in our rural communities,” said Congresswoman Bustos. “Whether it’s information to feel confident that the vaccine is safe and effective, or a nearby vaccination appointment, we must make sure we’re getting our rural communities what they need to get vaccinated.”

In Illinois, 8 of the 15 least-populated counties are also among the 15 lowest-vaccinated counties. 11 of the 15 most-populated counties are also among the 15 most-vaccinated counties.

“[Vaccine hesitancy] is more prevalent in rural America. Much like the Congressional District I serve–very rural… I’m wondering, Dr. Fauci, as a trusted voice in all this, what do you have to say about the folks holding off to get vaccinated?”

“The first thing we’ve got to is make sure we don’t point fingers at them and make them feel guilty about that. But you try to explain to them each and every one of the potential reasons they feel they don’t want to get vaccinated,” Dr. Fauci explained.

Dr. Fauci highlighted the COVID-19 Community Core, a group made up of well-known and trusted messengers to help reach these communities, and talked about the importance of making accessing a COVID-19 vaccine as easy as possible to receive through walk-in and mobile unit clinics.

When Congresswoman Bustos pushed for additional approaches to getting the vaccine out, Dr. Fauci committed to discussing the issue further with the White House medical unit.

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