These politicians downplayed the coronavirus but are now among the first scheduled to receive the COVID-19 vaccine
Iowa Senator Joni Ernst receives the COVID-19 vaccine posted on her Twitter account. Joni Ernst via Twitter screenshot
Most prominent American politicians have already received or are about to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, although many previously downplayed the pandemic.
President Donald Trump, who has not yet taken the vaccine, has routinely spread misinformation about the public health crisis.
Some of the president's Republican allies have refused to deny his claims, adding to the misleading messages about the pandemic.
Here is a list of all of the leaders who once pushed science back but have now taken the vaccine or are about to do so.
You can find more stories on the Business Insider homepage.
Most prominent American politicians are lining up to get their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, though some of them didn't always endorse science during the pandemic.
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Since the Food and Drug Administration approved two coronavirus vaccines this month and shipments rolled out across the country, President Donald Trump has failed to take the lead in a national messaging strategy that would encourage people to use the vaccine as soon as it is generally available to the general public next year. His administration has launched a vaccine education campaign, although it is unclear what role Trump will play, if any.
Instead, much of the responsibility has been left to other elected officials, many of whom are publicly broadcasting that they are receiving the vaccine, in an attempt to quell skepticism and build public confidence after months of promoting misinformation and routinely downplaying the pandemic Public health guidelines, including mask wear and social distancing.
A portion of these leaders had once enabled Trump to lie, either refusing to deny the president's misleading claims or failing to follow public health recommendations. You are now among the first in the country to receive the vaccine.
Trump has not yet taken the vaccine or stated when he intends to do so, despite experts and public health officials having recommended it. President-elect Joe Biden received the vaccine on Monday.
As of Tuesday, here are the politicians who previously downplayed the virus but have now received the COVID-19 vaccine or have announced that they will soon.
Vice President Mike Pence
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will receive a COVID-19 vaccine at the White House in Washington, DC on December 18, 2020 to promote the vaccine's safety and effectiveness.
Vice President Mike Pence, who was responsible for the government's pandemic, has made misleading claims and downplayed the crisis on several occasions.
In the early days of the outbreak, he defended Trump and denied that the president had downgraded the severity of the virus. In April, Pence admitted the US had been badly hit but contradicted himself weeks later, saying the pandemic would be over by Memorial Day weekend.
During the summer as cases and deaths increased across the country, Pence kept his tone, posting a comment in June announcing the federal government's "success" in fighting the pandemic.
"Such panic is exaggerated," Pence wrote in the Wall Street Journal after raising concerns about a second wave.
Pence has also often defied CDC guidelines: he was fired with a mask on in public places, performed at campaign events with crowded crowds, and refused to be quarantined after being exposed to the virus.
Pence got the tape on live television last week "to reassure the American people," he said.
Iowa Senator Joni Ernst
Joni Ernst, Senator from Iowa, receives the COVID-19 vaccine, which was posted on her Twitter account on December 20. Joni Ernst via Twitter screenshot
Iowa Senator Joni Ernst made national headlines in September after promoting an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory about the pandemic, promoted by fringe groups like QAnon.
During an election freeze with supporters, the Republican questioned the number of national coronavirus cases, saying she was "skeptical" of the official numbers.
"These healthcare providers and others will be reimbursed at a higher rate if COVID is tied to it. So what are they doing?" Ernst asked the crowd.
Ernst received the vaccination shot on Saturday and posted a photo on her Twitter account with the caption, "I encourage all Iowans and Americans to do the same when their time comes."
Lindsey Graham, Senator from South Carolina
Senator Lindsey Graham receives the COVID-19 vaccine, which was posted on his Twitter account on December 19. Senator Lindsey Graham via a Twitter screenshot
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham caused controversy when he refused to take a COVID-19 test prior to his personal debate with then Democratic candidate Jamie Harrison in October.
Harrison said he and the debate moderators agreed that both candidates should test negative before appearing on stage, but Graham declined his call and the debate was canceled.
Graham took the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday.
"Thank god to those who made these vaccines," he wrote in a tweet. "If enough of us take it, we will return to normal life. Help is on the way."
Indiana Senator Todd Young
Senator Todd Young receives the COVID-19 vaccine, which was posted on his Twitter account on December 19. Senator Todd Young via Twitter screenshot
Senator Todd Young previously vouched for Trump's handling of the pandemic and also denied that the president downplayed the outbreak.
The Indiana Republican told The Times of Northwest Indiana in April that "the president has shown tremendous leadership on so many fronts during this pandemic."
Young posted a photo on his Twitter account of receiving the vaccine on Saturday and advised "all Americans to get the vaccine as soon as possible to stop the spread of this virus".
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis greets people prior to the arrival of President Donald Trump for his Great American Comeback Rally at Cecil Airport on September 24, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida.
Governor Ron DeSantis has not yet received the COVID-19 vaccine but announced that he intends to get the shot in "a few more months," West Palm Beach TV reported Monday.
DeSantis has been criticized for its response in Florida, one of the country's top virus hotspots. The governor is a staunch supporter of Trump. He has long supported the president's approach to reopen and enforce some COVID-related restrictions.
DeSantis has refused to grant a nationwide masking mandate and has even banned local officials trying to punish people for not wearing face coverings in public.
He also welcomed Trump to a 2020 campaign rally in the state, where he mingled closely with supporters and disregarded the rules of social distancing.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds
President Donald Trump meets with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds in the Oval Office Doug Mills-Pool / Getty Images
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds is another Trump ally who said she plans to take the vaccine even though a date has not yet been given, the Des Moines Register reported last week.
Reynolds, a Republican, attended a Trump rally in the state in October and threw MAGA hats in front of large crowds. After critics busted the pace, Reynolds reiterated Trump campaign claims that all supporters wore masks and followed health guidelines, though pictures of the event told a different story.
Like DeSantis in Florida, Reynolds has been monitoring large numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths in Iowa. She has refused to implement a nationwide mask mandate.
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