Alaska Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young released a video message on social media Thursday urging Alaskans to get vaccinated.
”There’s much misinformation out there so I’ll be very clear in my position: These shots are safe, effective and they cost you nothing,” Young said in the message.
“They’ll help us fight this virus and get done with it, so we don’t have to wear the mask anymore,” he added.
Vaccination rates have stalled in Alaska; as of Thursday, about 48% of all Alaskans had received one dose, and just over 44% were fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, Young noted in his message the delta variant of the virus is causing strain in Alaska. Case numbers are once again surging in the state, and a group of Alaska hospital administrators this week warned a new wave of COVID-19 hospitalizations — mostly of unvaccinated people — was causing hospitals to revert back to some pandemic protocols.
Young himself was hospitalized for several days in Anchorage in November after testing positive for COVID-19. He said he has since received the vaccine.
“I urge you to do this, as I have done — I got vaccinated, I believe it works, I know it works, and I want you to do the same thing for Alaska and yourself,” Young said.
On Monday, Young put out a series of tweets also imploring his constituents to get the vaccine, saying the vaccine “can help keep you out of the hospital.”
Early in the pandemic last spring, Young drew controversy after calling COVID-19 the “beer virus” and downplaying its seriousness at a gathering of senior citizens in Palmer. Weeks later, he walked back those remarks, saying “I did not fully grasp the severity of this crisis, but clearly, we are in the midst of an urgent public health emergency.”
Young’s video message comes amid disputes between members of the U.S. House over a new order to wear masks inside the Capitol, with a number of Republicans refusing to wear masks on the House floor, the Washington Post reported.