Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski has received her first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, a spokeswoman said this week, and the two other members of Alaska’s Congressional delegation, Sen. Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young, plan to get the vaccine later.
Members of Congress are eligible for early access to vaccine doses to help ensure continued functioning of government, and a small number of staffers were also offered shots starting early this week.
“Sen. Murkowski has always said when a COVID-19 vaccine was safe and made available, she would take it,” spokeswoman Hannah Ray wrote in an email. “She has now received the first round of the COVID-19 vaccine as part of a limited distribution recommended for continuity-of-government protocols.”
Sullivan, meanwhile, “intends to get the vaccine himself when Alaskans who need it the most — like our frontline healthcare workers and the elderly — are able to receive one,” spokeswoman Amanda Coyne wrote in an email.
Young was hospitalized with COVID-19 last month and has since recovered. He is planning on getting the vaccine, but not immediately, given CDC guidance that people can wait three months after their recovery before getting their injection, according to spokesman Zack Brown.
“Taking into account the possibility that those who have not already had COVID-19 may be at a higher risk, and that others such as health care workers have greater need, the Congressman is waiting his turn,” Brown said. “He believes the vaccine is safe and effective.”
More than four dozen federal lawmakers have tested positive for COVID-19, and a newly-elected Louisiana Congressman died Tuesday evening from complications of the disease.
An array of Congressional leaders from both parties have already been vaccinated, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Others have said they will wait until frontline workers and the elderly can get their doses.
In Alaska, legislative leaders have asked for early access to the vaccine, citing their role in helping the state recover from COVID-19’s economic impacts and the Capitol building’s reputation as a “petri dish” for communicable disease.