Gov. Gavin Newsom said he won’t be skipping line for the coronavirus vaccine, as some other lawmakers have.
“I will wait until my turn,” the California governor, 53, said.
“My humble opinion is I don’t think that will sit well with people,” he continued, “and I am happy to wait my turn.”
Newsom has faced criticism over a number of recent events, including for violating his own strict coronavirus restrictions when he attended an indoor dinner party late last year. The governor is moving cautiously after a recall effort garnered 1 million of the 1.5 million signatures needed to sign on by mid-March, which would trigger a mid-year election.
Amid a slower-than-expected vaccine rollout across California and other states, Newsom loosened guidelines on who could get the vaccine. Vaccine prioritization in California now expands to community health care workers, specialty clinics, lab workers dental clinics and pharmacy staff.
The state also told officials if they have a surplus of doses after everyone eligible had been offered a vaccine, they could move to Tier 1, the next phase of distribution, which has not officially taken effect.
That group includes those who work in education, health care, emergency services, food and agriculture, and those over 75.
Newsom said this week that the expanded rules were to prevent any vaccine from going to waste.
“We want to see 100% of what’s received immediately administered in people’s arms, and so that’s a challenge,” he said during a briefing, according to the Los Angeles Times. “It’s a challenge across this country — it’s a challenge, for that matter, around the rest of the world. But that’s not an excuse.”
Lawmakers in Congress were offered the coronavirus vaccine weeks ago for “continuity of government.” Congress’ attending physician later informed lawmakers that two staff members from each House and Senate office could receive a vaccine.
Lawmakers split over whether to accept their jump-the-line passes to inoculation. Some said they were accepting the offer to build faith in the vaccine while some said frontline workers and the elderly should be offered it first.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., criticized lawmakers for getting the vaccine ahead of the elderly population.
“It would makes [sic] sense if it was age, but unfortunately it’s of importance and its shameful,” in December. “We are not more important then [sic] frontline workers, teachers etc. who are making sacrifices everyday. Which is why I won’t take it. People who need it most, should get it.”
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., slammed his younger colleagues who received the vaccine, naming Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who is 31.
“It is inappropriate for me – who has already gotten the virus/has immunity – to get in front of elderly/healthcare workers,” Paul tweeted of the vaccine offering. “Same goes for AOC or any young healthy person. They should be among last, not first.”
Ocasio-Cortez, who streamed her receiving the jab on Instagram, shot back: “Maybe if the GOP hadn’t spent so much time undermining public faith in science, masks, & COVID itself, I wouldn’t have to weigh the potential misinfo consequences of what [would] happen if leaders urged [people] to take a new vaccine that we weren’t taking ourselves!” she tweeted, replying to Paul’s message.
She added, “Our job is to make sure the vaccine isn’t politicized the way masks were politicized.”