One of the ways health officials say we can start to bring the pandemic to an end is to ensure a high percentage of the population gets vaccinated, achieving herd immunity. That's why comments from Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson are bringing heat, with some accusing him of promoting vaccine hesitancy. The GOP senator appeared Thursday on The Vicki McKenna Show podcast, saying he was "highly suspicious" of officials encouraging as many people as possible to get vaccinated, and that he didn't think people should feel compelled to get a vaccine that's being administered under emergency use authorization by the FDA, per the Hill. "Why this big push to make sure everybody gets a vaccine," to where we'll "shame people," he said. "Science tells us that vaccines are 95% effective, so if you have a vaccine ... what do you care if your neighbor has one or not?"
Axios points out some of the reasons why we should care, including that we still don't fully know how much transmission from vaccinated people is reduced, thus making it necessary to continue safety precautions around the unvaccinated. It's also possible that unvaccinated people can cause "breakthrough" infections among the vaccinated, though that seems to be rare, and it's still not clear what role variants will play in everything. Critics jumped on Johnson's comments, saying his remarks would promote the vaccine hesitancy that's been especially prominent among white Republicans. "Ron Johnson's rhetoric is dangerously irresponsible," says a spokesperson from the liberal American Bridge 21st Century super PAC. Johnson's response to such criticism, via a statement: "Everyone should have the right to gather information, consult with their doctor, and decide for themselves whether to get vaccinated." (Read more Ron Johnson stories.)