WASHINGTON — About one in four members of the House has not been vaccinated against Covid-19 as of early March, despite having had access to the vaccine since December, according to a letter from House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy obtained by NBC News.
The letter reveals the number of vaccinated House members. Members of Congress have had access to the vaccine since it was first approved and some opted to have their doses administered on camera.
Inoculations by House members mirrors current public polling on the vaccine. A recent NPR-PBS-Marist poll found about 25 percent of Americans are skeptical about getting the shot, including 47 percent of supporters of former President Donald Trump. Public health experts and political strategist are developing methods to convince Republicans, who continue to tell pollsters they won't get the vaccine, to receive shots.
In his letter, McCarthy, however, argued that with 75 percent of the chamber vaccinated, the rate is high enough that the House should return to regular business, including opening the Capitol for tours and ending proxy voting, which allows members to cast without being present in Washington. Democrats, however, say more members need to be vaccinated.
McCarthy sent the letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., last week asking what her plan is to reopen the House and noting “it’s time that we return to regular order.”
He states in the letter that “roughly 75 percent of House members have been fully vaccinated, or will be by the end of this week.” And House GOP Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., also mentioned that 75 percent of the chamber is vaccinated during his floor debate last week with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.
"There's a strong desire to get back to a regular floor schedule here on the floor where we are conducting our business, we have the ability to interact with each other as colleagues, it is a much different experience than when people have to trickle in, trickle out," Scalise said.
Hoyer shot back, "It would be a lot simpler if every member had been vaccinated.”
The Office of the Attending Physician sent a message to members Friday encouraging lawmakers to receive the vaccine and to continue practice social distancing and hand washing.
The email also noted the House gym and swimming pool can open more fully because of the number of members who have been vaccinated.
Kasie Hunt reporter from Washington and Dartunorro Clark reported from New York.