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LaHood Backs COVID-19 Vaccination Effort As Best Route Back to Normalcy

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, toured the Peoria Neighborhood House Meals on Wheels program on March 30, 2020.
Tim Shelley / Peoria Public Radio
U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, toured the Peoria Neighborhood House Meals on Wheels program on March 30, 2020.

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood says he's now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. But for those hesitating to roll up their sleeves, he said not to take his word for it. "Don't listen to me as a politician, or an elected official. Listen to your medical professional. Whoever your doctor is. Maybe you talk to a nurse. Talk to your medical professionals. Those are the people who understand the science. They understand this vaccine. They understand the pandemic," said LaHood, R-Peoria. "And they're the ones recommending that."

A NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll conducted earlier this month shows vaccine hesitancy runs highest among Republican men, with 49% saying they will not get vaccinated. The second most hesitant group includes people who voted for Donald Trump in 2020, with 47% who say they won't get a shot.

But LaHood said society can't return to normal until enough people get vaccinated to build up herd immunity.

"It's the best thing that we can do to get the economy back on track, get our kids back in school, get our businesses opened back up," he said, noting that overall, documented severe side effects are few.

He also praised the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts.

LaHood gave credit for vaccine development to Operation Warp Speed, a Trump-era initiative. But he said Biden has managed the rollout well.

"Passing off to the Biden administration, the number one thing that they are responsible for is getting the vaccine out. And they're doing a good job with that, right? The more that we can get the vaccine distributed and do it in an efficient and effective way, the better. I think that's being done," he said.

As of March 24, the CDC says an average of 2.5 million vaccines are administered daily across the U.S. Around 14% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, and the Biden administration is continuing to announce upscaled vaccine production to further accelerate the pace.

In Illinois, 16.5% of the population, or 2.1 million people, is fully vaccinated.

The Tri-County region is opening up universal vaccine eligibility to people ages 16 and older starting next Monday. Eligibility opens up statewide on April 12.

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Copyright 2021 WCBU

Tim Shelley is the Assignment Editor and Digital Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.