Fox News host Sean Hannity, who has spent considerable airtime downplaying the effects of Covid-19, urged his viewers Monday to "take it seriously."
"Please take Covid seriously. I can’t say it enough. Enough people have died. We don’t need any more death," he said. "Research like crazy. Talk to your doctor, your doctors, medical professionals you trust based on your unique medical history, your current medical condition, and you and your doctor make a very important decision for your own safety."
After highlighting the importance of "medical privacy" and "doctor-patient confidentiality," Hannity added: "And it absolutely makes sense for many Americans to get vaccinated. I believe in science, I believe in the science of vaccination."
He stopped short, however, of directly encouraging vaccination. During a segment on universities mandating that students get the vaccine, Hannity said there are very "rare cases where people have serious underlying health conditions that could be aggravated by the vaccine." He highlighted a woman who he reported was paralyzed for a month after taking a different vaccine in 2019.
"That's why it's important you research, talk to your doctors, and you make the decision — in conjunction with your doctor — that is best for you," Hannity said.
In the early days of the pandemic, he preached to his viewers that Covid was only as bad as the flu, and Democrats were using the virus to attack then-President Donald Trump.
Fox News hosts have been criticized for minimizing the effects of the deadly virus in its early days and now, turning vaccinations into a political fight by pushing back on President Joe Biden's efforts to get Americans vaccinated.
White House officials said Friday that almost all recent hospitalizations and deaths involve unvaccinated people. Meanwhile, five of the top six states with the highest daily average cases over the past two weeks, driven in part by the delta variant, have below-average vaccination rates and voted for Trump last fall.
A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found that while just 6 percent of Democrats said they were likely to decline inoculation, 47 percent of Republicans said they were unlikely to get the vaccination.
Hannity is not the only Fox News host sounding the alarm.
“Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade compared skipping the Covid-19 vaccine to cliff diving, saying on Monday that people who don't survive the disease made the “choice” to die.
The assertion came as co-host Steve Doocy urged those who have resisted getting the vaccine to get the shot. "If you have the chance, get the shot. It will save your life,"' Doocy said.
During another segment, co-host and anchor Bill Hemmer asked Fox News medical contributor Marc Siegel: "The vaccine works, right? We haven’t budged on that, have we, doc?”
"The vaccine works extremely well even against the delta variant, preventing infection in 90 percent of cases," Siegel told Hemmer.