The year-defining pandemic has killed over 300 thousand Americans, unemployed millions more, and upended daily life in the United States.
Exacerbating the toll of the highly contagious virus has been a sea of disinformation from primarily Republican heavy-hitters, including President Donald Trump. This disinformation includes false claims that masks don't help slow the spread of the virus and that government shutdowns are being implemented to maintain control over everyday Americans.
To the relief of millions, the first doses of long-awaited vaccines are being administered in the United States, mostly to frontline health workers, the elderly, and lawmakers in Congress to ensure continuity of government.
Though it will be months before a majority of Americans have received the vaccine, the development promises the beginning of the end of its hold on the public.
But while the vaccines—developed by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna—may foretell the erasure of the virus in the U.S., the disinformation that exacerbated it doesn't seem to be going anywhere soon.
Recent comments from Congressman Ken Buck (R-CO) on the conservative Fox News network only confirmed that.
When asked about plans to take the vaccine, Buck said:
"I will not be taking the vaccine...I'm an American. I have the freedom to decide if I'm going to take a vaccine or not and in this case I am not going to take the vaccine. ... I'm more concerned about the safety of the vaccine than I am the side effects of the disease."
Though both vaccines were developed and distributed in record time, the work informing them wasn't haphazard. Both Pfizer and Moderna tested the vaccine on sample groups of thousands before submitting data to the Data Safety and Monitoring Boards (DSMB) and getting approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
To encourage members of the public to take the vaccine when it becomes available, leaders on both sides of the aisle—such as Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)—have publicly taken the vaccine to quell fears that it's unsafe.
Buck's speculation on its safety was criticized for its potential to foment disinformation.
Some used Buck's logic to poke holes in Republican stances on reproductive freedom.
Buck attempted to backtrack on his Twitter account, saying that members of Congress shouldn't be able to skip the line for the vaccine—contradicting his claim on Fox News about safety concerns regarding it.
An ABC News-Ipsos poll last week found that Republicans were four times more likely not to take the vaccine. Hopefully Republican lawmakers will work against this fear—unlike Buck.