- The US Food and Drug Administration recently approved of two COVID-19 vaccines for public use, and members of Congress were among the first in the nation to get vaccinated.
- But many Americans believe that elected officials should be among the last to get vaccinated, recent polling from Insider and SurveyMonkey found.
- According to the Library of Congress, the average age of members of the Senate and House of Representatives is 63 and 58, respectively — and several members are above the age of 75, a demographic the CDC suggests should be among the first to receive the vaccine.
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Following FDA approval for two separate COVID-19 vaccines, members of the US Congress were among the first to get inoculated. Many members quickly accepted the opportunity — notably some who have underplayed the severity of the novel coronavirus, leading to waves of online backlash.
But according to recent polling from Insider and SurveyMonkey, most Americans believe that elected officials should be among the last to receive a vaccine.
Insider provided a list of 13 demographic groups to survey-takers and requested they rank the groups by vaccine priority. The following chart shows the share of respondents who ranked a group in their top three:
Elected government officials placed eighth in the overall ranking — just above inmates in correctional facilities, people who have already had COVID-19 between the ages of 16 and 65, and the general population aged 64 and below.
This analysis comes from a SurveyMonkey Audience poll taken on December 21. The poll also surveyed the 1,123 respondents about pandemic holiday plans and the congressional stimulus package. The question on vaccine priorities was skipped by 38 respondents, leaving 1,085 total responses in the final ranked list.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, essential workers are defined as a broad category of workers whose jobs are essential to the nation's infrastructure. A frontline worker is generally defined as a subcategory of essential workers who cannot feasibly do their work at home.
Members of Congress, on average, skew older
While elected officials were ranked eighth out of 13 for vaccine priority, the two leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives, Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi, are 78 and 80 years old, respectively — among the age demographic most vulnerable to COVID-19.
The average age of the Senate and members of the House generally skews older in age — according to the Library of Congress in January 2019, the average age among members of the House was 58 while for the Senate it was 63.
Several members of Congress are also above the age of 75 and among the demographic that the Centers for Disease Control recommend should be among the first to receive the vaccine.
McConnell and Pelosi were among the first in Congress to receive the vaccine alongside Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Joni Erst, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and others.
Many Americans are clamoring to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible to begin a return to normalcy, but Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US's top infectious-disease expert, predicts the earliest the general public will likely get the vaccine is mid-2021.
But while the CDC's current recommendations say that the first rounds of vaccines should go to healthcare professionals, frontline workers, and people 75 and older, Insider reported that some states are sidestepping the suggestion and have already begun vaccinating other demographics.
"The only way to beat this pandemic is for us to follow the advice of our nation's health care professionals: get vaccinated and continue to follow CDC guidelines," McConnell said in a statement. "As a polio survivor, I know both the fear of a disease and the extraordinary promise of hope that vaccines bring. I truly hope all Kentuckians and Americans will heed this advice and accept this safe and effective vaccine."
Vice President Mike Pence received the COVID-19 vaccine on December 18. President Donald Trump, who tested positive for COVID-19 in October, has yet to receive a coronavirus vaccine and will not until it is recommended by the White House medical team, a White House official told CNN.
SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn't try to weight its sample based on race or income. Polling data collected 1,123 respondents on December 21. All polls carried approximately a 3 percentage point margin of error individually.
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