As Florida experiences a surge in delta variant COVID-19 cases, vaccination rates are again under scrutiny, with fewer than half of Floridians getting the shot.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, though he has the shot, is defending the right not to get the vaccine. On Wednesday, he took issue with claims that Republicans are the main bloc refusing coronavirus vaccines.
“But at the end of the day, it’s up to people to make that decision,” Rubio said on CBS “This Morning.” “The government, in a free society such as ours, there’s only so much that they can do. They can provide information. We can debunk things that aren’t true. We can provide access. It’s ultimately up to people individually to make that decision.”
Rubio went on to say that, regarding polling showing nearly 30% of Republicans will not get the shot, that refusal of coronavirus vaccines is not just “ideological.”
“Well, I don’t think the skepticism is just among Republicans,” Rubio said. “I see all kinds of voices that I don’t even think are ideological. People decided they wanted to believe something they read somewhere.”
When pressed, he replied: “There are also communities, some African American and Hispanic communities in Florida where there’s a high hesitancy to get the vaccine as well for a whole variety of reasons.”
“It’s really not a partisan issue. I don’t care what the polling says,” Rubio added. “At the end of the day, the vaccine is the vaccine. It’s a human thing and you either take it, or you don’t. There are some people who don’t want to be vaccinated, and you won’t convince them. I have family members; I have friends that I’ve known for a long time. Smart, educated people who just refuse to do it.”
The Senator does believe in vaccines, noting that people have the right to make catastrophic choices.
“People should get vaccinated,” Rubio advised. “The government’s been telling people for a long time that they shouldn’t smoke, that it causes cancer and heart disease and people decide to do it. The numbers have come down, but people still do it.”
“They tell us to watch what we eat. If you’re overweight, you can develop diabetes and heart disease, but it still happens. And my whole point here is that I think everyone who wants — everyone should be vaccinated. There’s no reason not to be vaccinated. I’m vaccinated. My family’s vaccinated. People shouldn’t listen to the people that tell them not to. All these things out there that are being said are just not accurate.”
For months, vaccine hesitancy has been a topic of discussion, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis theorizing in the spring that mask mandates made people wary of the jabs.
“I think that they’ve sent a message to say get vaccinated, but it really ain’t going to do anything for you,” DeSantis said in May. “Well, why would someone want to put something in their arm if they don’t think it’s effective?”
The month before, DeSantis said President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris had personally contributed to vaccine hesitancy by “saying this was a bad vaccine.”
Florida Politics’ Renzo Downey contributed to this post.