CDC Director Rochelle Walensky joined ‘Special Report’ to discuss vaccine effectiveness, the delta variant and answer some viewer questions
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky was pressed Friday as to whether she supports or foresees a federal vaccine mandate, as the Biden administration publicly laments continued vaccine hesitancy in parts of the country.
Walensky told “Special Report” anchor Bret Baier that she and President Biden are “looking into” whether or not to establish a mandate.
“Are you for mandating a vaccine on a federal level?” Baier asked.
“That’s something that I think the administration is looking into. It’s something that I think we are looking to see approval of from the vaccine,” Walensky replied.
“Overall, I think in general, I am all for more vaccination. But, I have nothing further to say on that except that we are looking into those policies.”
Walensky added that any vaccine mandates currently in place are strictly on the local or corporate level.
In response, Baier asked what Walensky would say to the swath of the American people that believe they should have full control of what happens to their body and what they inject themselves with, whether for religious, personal or other reasons.
“I completely understand the pushback,” she responded, adding that the COVID jab would not be the first vaccine to be mandated for institutions like public schools and the like – as polio, pertussis and other shots are already standardized.
She said that as a former chief epidemiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, she was mandated to receive an influenza shot every year to be able to hold her job.
“I understand both perspectives,” she said, adding that when it comes to medical staff that are reticent to receive the vaccine, that dynamic is simply the product of a “heterogeneous country.”
“Some people haven’t had access. Some people haven’t had time off. Some people don’t understand its benefits. Some people are worried about the side effects. Solve think as we go and try and provide information to people who are not yet vaccinated,” she said, adding that the CDC must take charge of understanding vaccine hesitancy and respond with information that may convince such folks otherwise.
Walensky pointed to the VAERS reporting system, a web portal highlighted by Fox News host Tucker Carlson in recent months that allows Americans to self-report however unverified adverse reactions to any current vaccine.
“We are watching this incredibly carefully through numerous different safety systems,” Walensky claimed, citing VAERS and other reporting systems that transmit information between hospitals and the feds.
She told Baier there have been “very rare signals” of adverse data and have summarily investigated them.
“What I would say is we have vaccinated 164 million Americans. So we have an extraordinary amount of data since December as we started getting vaccinating people,” she said. “So I have extraordinary confidence in the safety of these vaccines.”