California prepares for onslaught of covid-19 deaths as second vaccine nears approval

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With distribution of the first doses of a coronavirus vaccine underway, leaders from both political parties are encouraging Americans to get inoculated when possible, seeking to bolster confidence in the drug by pledging to take it themselves.

Public polling suggests that Republicans are more skeptical of the vaccine than Democrats, but on Tuesday some of the nation’s top GOP officials began touting the shots and saying they would receive them.

“We have cut red tape, but we’ve cut no corners when it comes to the development of this vaccine,” Vice President Pence said after touring a vaccine production facility in Indiana. “I look forward in the days ahead to receiving the vaccine myself and do so without hesitation. The American people can be confident that while we moved faster than the FDA has ever moved, we’ve literally not compromised any standard of safety.”

Pence said persuading the public to take the vaccine will be one of “two great challenges” the country faces in coming months, along with reminding Americans that they should continue mask-wearing and social distancing.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also said he is eager to get the vaccine and lamented that a portion of the population remains hesitant.

“As a polio survivor myself — unfortunately, the vaccine had not yet been developed — I’m a huge supporter of being vaccinated when you have a substance that, you know, work,” McConnell said. “And so whenever my turn comes, I’m going to be anxious to take a vaccine and to … do my part to reassure those who are doubtful about this that we really need to get the country vaccinated.”

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has said that President Trump, who tested positive for the virus in October, is “absolutely open to taking the vaccine” and will do so “as soon as his medical team determines it’s best.”

An Axios-Ipsos poll released Tuesday observed significant across-the-board increases in the number of respondents who say they will get the coronavirus vaccine as soon as it’s available — but still more Democrats than Republicans said they would.

An earlier poll, which AP-NORC published Dec. 9, showed that 60 percent of Democrats, compared with 40 percent of Republicans, said they plan on vaccinating against the coronavirus.

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