Illinois’ top doc, Lightfoot blame misinformation for COVID vaccine hesitancy


CHICAGO — America has an abundance of the COVID vaccine but about 30% of the population remains unvaccinated. So lawmakers on Wednesday decided to take a deeper look at COVID vaccine hesitancy. 

Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi  (D-IL 8th District) led a House select subcommittee hearing at Malcolm X College in Chicago.

“Nationwide, more than 20% of all adults and children over the age of 12 have not yet received even one dose of vaccine,” Krishnamoorthi said.

Among the witnesses: Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

“There’s a small percentage that are anti-vax – that are never going to reach it,” Krishnamoorthi said.

Ezike said since April of 2021, “when the rate of vaccination actually began to slow in Illinois,” the population of unvaccinated individuals is increasingly composed of people hesitant to the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Health officials say the vaccine-hesitant population is mainly comprised of young Americans, people of color and residents of rural areas.

“We know that everything is political but it’s also become unfortunately partisan and that partisan part has made some people make a decision against the vaccine,” Ezike said.

State officials discussed the role misinformation has played throughout the pandemic.

“There’s still a persistent drumbeat of misinformation out there about the vaccine, about the efficacy of it, about the ingredients of it, what was used and so forth,” Lightfoot asserted.

Ezike would like for Congress to get in front of the issue.

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“By the time we’re actually aware of some of these ideas that have just permitted and bathed the people, it’s a very uphill battle to get on top of that because that news spread so quickly,” Ezike said.

Lightfoot said city health officials are leaning on ambassadors to specific communities can counter false information. 

“When we’re able to have those kinds of one on one conversations,” she says, “we’re able to break through it at remarkable rates.”

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