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Julia Letlow, Whose Husband Died From COVID, on GOP Vaccine Doubters: ‘Use My Story’

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Incoming GOP U.S. Representative Julia Letlow, who was recently elected to fill her late husband’s seat in Congress after his death from COVID-19 in December, urged members of the public—among them Republicans—to abandon vaccine skepticism and embrace immunization for the sake of community wellness on Sunday.

Letlow, elected Saturday to replace her deceased husband, Luke Letlow, as representative of Louisiana’s fifth congressional district, addressed reports that suggest some people are reluctant to receive COVID-19 vaccines during an appearance on CBS News’ Face the Nation. Luke Letlow was originally elected to position in November, but passed away from health complications caused by COVID-19 before his congressional term began.

Republican Rep.-elect @jbletlow’s message to those in party still hesitant to receive a COVID-19 vaccine: “I want to be an advocate and a voice for everyone… Look at my family, use my story.” pic.twitter.com/GyUMOcYYsS

— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) March 28, 2021

“Look at my family, use my story,” Julia Letlow said Sunday, telling host Margaret Brennan that she hopes “to be an advocate and a voice for everyone” as Louisiana furthers its pandemic response strategies and vaccine rollout.

“You know, I experienced a tragedy in my immediate family. And COVID can touch every family out there,” she continued. “And so, you know, if there is a vaccine that has life-saving capabilities, I want to encourage everyone to trust it and get the vaccine.”

Louisiana Governor Jon Bel Edwards announced last week that an upcoming increase in the state’s vaccine supply would allow for broader administration beginning on Monday, at which point eligibility criteria would include all residents older than 16.

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The development in Louisiana is similar to others taking place across the country this spring. As the federal government continues to prioritize a more equitable and efficient nationwide immunization program, dozens of states are starting to administer vaccines to wider sects of their respective populations. More than 143 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have already been administered in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and almost one-third of the country’s population have received at least one dose as of Sunday.

Efforts to expand vaccine eligibility are promising markers amid the ongoing push toward herd immunity and an eventual end to the pandemic. However, polling data suggests that the incidence of Americans harboring doubts about the vaccines’ effectiveness, and would consequently opt against receiving it, is not insignificant. National surveys conducted in March, as reported by NPR, pointed to a pattern of COVID-19 vaccine hesitance among individuals who self-identified as Republicans—and particularly as Republican men.

Letlow, who will become the first Republican woman elected to represent Louisiana in Congress when she is formally officiated, was straightforward in her remarks about vaccinating against COVID-19 during her Face the Nation interview.

“I am a huge proponent of the vaccine,” she said, echoing similar advocacy from top public health officials and infectious disease experts. They agree that immunizations approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—of which there are currently three available options—are safe, effective and necessary to move past the pandemic.

Upwards of 30.2 million people have contracted COVID-19 in the U.S. alone since the pandemic’s onset last year, according to Johns Hopkins University’s data. Of those who tested positive for the illness, nearly 550,000 people have died as of Sunday.

The Liberty Buzz reached out to Letlow’s campaign for further comment, but did not receive a reply in time for publication.

Louisiana Rep.-elect Julia Letlow, a Republican, encouraged all eligible individuals to receive COVID-19 vaccinations during a Sunday morning interview. In the photograph above, people enter a Brooklyn mall where a pop-up vaccination clinic is located soon March 26, 2021 in New York City.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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