Rep. Ilhan Omar Defers Her Own COVID-19 Vaccine

by Julie Scagell
Stephen Maturen/Getty

Omar says she won’t get the vaccine ahead of frontline workers who desperately need it

Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar slammed members of Congress receiving their coronavirus vaccinations ahead of frontline workers and the elderly, saying she won’t get the shot until after the “people who need it most.”

With only limited doses available across the US, members of Congress have been prioritized to receive the vaccination in an effort to maintain governmental continuity. But the prioritization isn’t sitting well with some, and Omar was quick to make her feelings known. The first-term lawmaker shared earlier this year that her father died from complications of the coronavirus in June, and tweeted Sunday it was “shameful” that politicians are being given priority of importance over those on the frontlines of the pandemic “who are making sacrifices everyday.”

While many agreed with Omar and applauded her effort to bring more attention to those who need the vaccine like teachers, doctors, and nurses, others felt she should have gotten the shot to set an example of its safety.

Omar’s announcement came in response to a question posed by journalist Anand Giridharadas, who’d asked if “our entire top political leadership” was receiving the shot “ahead of others because of their age or their importance.”

“We are not more important then frontline workers, teachers etc. who are making sacrifices everyday,” Omar tweeted in part. “Which is why I won’t take it. People who need it most, should get it. Full stop.”

Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif), and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) received their initial COVID-19 shots on Friday. Pence and McConnell were just a few politicians to downplay the virus from the very beginning. Republican Senator Joni Ernst, who suggested doctors were faking COVID cases in order to get extra federal money, also lined up to get her vaccine.

“I encourage all Iowans and Americans to do the same when their time comes,” she said sharing herself getting the vaccine. “Thanks to #OperationWarpSpeed and the tireless work of Americans across the country, we are one step closer to defeating this virus.”

But they are not alone. Other GOP members like Lindsay Graham and Marco Rubio, both of whom downplayed the virus since the pandemic began, also received the vaccination. Rubio, who apparently doesn’t understand his level of privilege, joked about his “pasty” arms and not loving needles while getting his.

“Something that really pissed me off — triggered me of that post, was, you know, he started by making a joke about how he looked away from the needle and how he needed a tan in his arm. You’ve got privilege that others don’t. You are getting a precious vaccine that millions are waiting for,” CNN political commentator Ana Navarro told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin on Newsroom. “There’s people risking their lives on a daily basis that are not getting that vaccine yet, and you crack a joke about your pasty white arm? Really?”

Other politicians following in Omar’s footsteps include Reps. Brian Mast, a Florida Republican, Rep.-elect Nancy Mace, a South Carolina Republican, and Hawaii Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, all who said they are waiting to get vaccinated until other essential Americans have access.