The year may be ending, but the push to vaccinate as many people as possible against COVID-19 is not.
NEWS9’s Rich Pierce spoke to West Virginia Junior Senator Shelley Moore Capito about a number of topics, including what needs to be done to put this virus in the rearview mirror.
RP: Just over 60 percent of eligible people in the country are vaccinated right now. What more can be done to push that number even higher to a spot where scientists, medical professionals feel like there could be a herd immunity factor kicking in?
SMC: I'm fully vaccinated. I believe in the vaccination. I've gotten the vaccination, and I’ve gotten the booster. I've had numerous tests just to make sure I’m protecting, not just myself but the people I’m around. One thing I’ve noticed lately is that with these new variants, the only people that are in the hospital that are hospitalized -- most of the people -- are people that are unvaxxed. They are the ones that are getting the sickest. To me, that's an indication that, unless you have some huge reason or health reason, you really should look at the vaccination to protect yourself. We need to talk about as the variants move through the population, who is getting sick, who is getting hospitalized. Those are the things that tell us vaccinations work. This one works and it keeps you from getting maybe less sick -- definitely less sick -- and maybe from getting it at all.
RP: Studies have shown -- multiple studies -- that the majority of people who say they are not going to get vaccinated identify with the Republican party. Should there be more of a concerted effort by the GOP to push vaccination and try to convince those vaccine-hesitant people?
SMC: The erosion of confidence began in a political way. We've got to throw that all away. Leaders -- Republican leaders and Democrat leaders -- need to be pushing the vaccine. I noticed President Biden, himself, yesterday, mentioned the development of the vaccine occurred during the Trump Administration. This is the kind of thing that can ease political tensions and get as many people vaccinated as possible. We know we're not going to get all the way there, but we can do better, particularly with those vulnerable either age groups or with health conditions.
RP: What's your top priority heading into 2022?
SMC: My top priority is making sure that the infrastructure package gets put into motion in the best possible way in West Virginia. I've always had a high priority on broadband deployment. I have my Capito Connect Program. This is what's going to get us there. That's my No. 1 priority, the deployment of broadband in our state. Also, roads and bridges, making sure our water system is modernized. Health issues. Whether it's the pandemic, whether it's the opioid crisis still raging. We can't take our eye off the ball, off of that, because that's something the numbers are going up and up. Other than that, I'm going to keep pressing the Biden Administration to make sure the border is not open. Close the border. Stop the 180,000 people coming across. They are basically open borders. We have to convince the administration this is not the policy of the American people.