The first people across the US began receiving the Pfizer Covid candidate last week, after the jab was given final approval by the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use.
As those most vulnerable to the virus across the country began to receive their shots, a number of US lawmakers began getting publicly inoculated with the jab, sharing proof online.
Members of Congress from across the political spectrum, some outside the prioritisation criteria, cut the vaccine queue in an attempt to build public confidence in the jab, eliciting mixed reactions from social media.
However, certain Republican senators who have often downplayed the pandemic in line with messaging from party leader Donald Trump, and have flouted social distancing and mask guidelines, began to receive particular criticism online.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s announcement of his inoculation quickly garnered attention on Twitter, with many pointing out that the senator had recently attended a large Trump rally maskless.
“I know I looked away from the needle. And yes, I know I need a tan. But I am so confident that the #Covid19 vaccine is safe & effective that I decided to take it myself,” the senator posted on Saturday.
The post quickly gathered over 22,000 comments, many of which were critical of Sen Rubio receiving the vaccine, citing his attitude towards the pandemic.
Something wrong when Marco Rubio — who downplayed COVID and mocked people wearing masks — is among first to get the vaccine.
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) December 20, 2020
Really great to watch Republicans who did nothing to address the pandemic line up to vaccinate themselves before teachers, nurses and other frontline workers https://t.co/PrILZ9ORY4
— Brandon Friedman (@BFriedmanDC) December 19, 2020
South Carolina Senator and ardent Donald Trump supporter Lindsey Graham also faced the same scrutiny on Twitter after he posted photos of himself receiving the shot.
“Thank God for nurses who help people in need and know how to use a needle. Thank God for those who produced these vaccines,” he wrote.
“If enough of us take it, we will get back to normal lives. Help is on the way.”
So, Lindsey Graham Kraken cuts the line to get the vaccine. He is truly a bad person deep down. He is literally mocking the Americans who have lost their loved ones due to his boss’ willful negligence.
— Exploding Trumppopotamus Singh MD 🌊 (@LabyrinthWeaver) December 19, 2020
Thank God they vaccinated the guy who’s been complicit in the President’s message that the virus is a hoax, that it will blow over, that Hyrdoxychloroquine was the cure, that it doesnt effect young people, that the public shouldnt be told about it, that people shouldn’t distance.
— Jeremy Newberger (@jeremynewberger) December 20, 2020
Vice-President Mike Pence garnered a similar reaction on Twitter after receiving the vaccine in Washington DC on Friday, with many criticising the administration’s handling of the pandemic.
We live in a system where the people who most fervently denied and downplayed the coronavirus are among the first to receive the vaccine. This is so despicable. https://t.co/zOZknFFR8i
— Gabrielle (@GabsOnClarkSt) December 18, 2020
It’s odd that Mike Pence cast doubt on science for 8 months and now is getting a vaccine on TV.
— Tim Hannan (@TimHannan) December 18, 2020
Some cut in to reiterate the importance of high-profile figures receiving the vaccine, saying that it was “good and important” that the vice-president receive the shot.
The majority of US residents are not expected to receive the vaccine until spring 2021, however, one out of every five Americans (21 per cent) expressed in a recent Ipsos poll that they would choose not to get the vaccine.
This is good and important. I have pretty much nothing positive to say about Mike Pence, but this act is unequivocally positive. A lot of Americans will needlessly die if the vaccine isn’t championed by Republicans and Democrats alike. https://t.co/cYtetn5FcX
— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) December 18, 2020
Mike Pence deserves credit for getting a coronavirus vaccine shot on camera. It was a too-rare display of leadership from the White House. https://t.co/LsKy71KaRd
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 18, 2020
Senate leader Mitch McConnell, a 78-year-old survivor of polio, was not lambasted for receiving the shot but instead for his prolonged refusal to agree on a second coronavirus relief bill to provide aid to Americans impacted by the pandemic.
While Americans are trying to avoid homelessness and begging for a helping hand, Mitch McConnell is bragging that HE was able to get the Covid Vaccine and still lying about trying to pass a relief package that sat on his desk for 7 months.
— Bruno Amato (@BrunoAmato_1) December 18, 2020
Reminder 1: this guy is currently blocking relief because he wants immunity for corporations that treat their workers unsafely.
Reminder 2: his vaccine was paid by tax payers to whom he is blocking relief.
— Walpurga Müller-Schm (@WalpurgaMueller) December 18, 2020
Almost 18 million people have been infected with the novel coronavirus across the US since the outbreak gripped the country in March, leading to the deaths of over 318,000 people.