Setting a good example or cutting ahead in line? Gov. Greg Abbott’s COVID-19 vaccination draws praise and heat

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at an event in Austin, in hopes of encouraging trust in its safety.

While many state and nationwide praised the Governor’s move, others were less impressed due to Abbott’s previous actions — or, as some say, inactions — through the pandemic.

Texas currently ranks as the second U.S. state claiming the highest numbers of cases, with 1,626,934 — just behind California.

During the short event, Abbott rolled up his sleeve, received the shot painlessly and then exclaimed, “It’s that easy.”

But the vaccination marked a break with both recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and the state’s previous statements about who goes next. Based on state guidelines, Texas is currently in Phase 1A of vaccine distribution: meaning frontline healthcare workers and long-term care facilities should be first in line. That’s about 1.9 million people.

Phase 1B, which is next, would include people 65 and up and those with chronic medical conditions.

The Texas Medical Association applauded Abbott’s move, saying in part: “The governor is leading by example by getting the shot.”

But many online say Abbott should not have been first in line to receive the vaccine due to his insistence on keeping state businesses open throughout most of the pandemic — which is often attributed to the worsening numbers.

Just last month, Abbott said he would not authorize any more business shutdowns, saying, it’s time to “put shutdowns behind us.”

Dr. John Biggan, a data scientist at the ACH Child and Family Services and former Democratic Congressional candidate blasted Abbott on Twitter, saying in part: “Greg Abbott got the COVID vaccine today. Yesterday, he and his Republican cronies decided to disregard CDC recommendations that teachers receive the vaccine as part of Phase 1B.”

Other negative reactions include:

From one Twitter user: “I just found out that today Greg Abbott got the COVID vaccine & I AM ABSOLUTELY LIVID. This man has done nothing to slow the spread in TX & also blocked city mayors’ abilities to mandate their own lockdowns & he got the vaccine. no no no sir, he should’ve been one of the last.”

But Abbott says his choice to be vaccinated was discussed with national health experts.

“They said it’s important for governors to step up and be examples in their community,” Abbott explained.

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