Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) offered his helping hand to nurses on Tuesday morning by administering COVID-19 vaccines at a Maryland county health department clinic.
“Believe me, this is much more fun than being in Washington,” Harris, who is a Johns Hopkins-trained anesthesiologist, told the Baltimore Sun. “I’m more than happy to help whenever I can.”
It was a pleasure to join the Harford County Health Department in administering COVID-19 vaccines to individuals today. pic.twitter.com/xGfdYPMbHb
— Rep. Andy Harris, MD (@RepAndyHarrisMD) March 16, 2021
Harris, who voted against the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that delivered President Biden’s first legislative victory following its passage in Congress, is one of seven Republican physicians in Congress who argue that public health officials should consider delaying the distribution of a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Pfizer/BioTech and Moderna in order for more people to receive their first doses as soon as possible.
Bureaucracy cannot get in the way, the mountains of evidence support a delayed second dose to allow for a maximum number of vaccine recipients. HHS must untie the hands of governors. @RepGregMurphy @RepMMM https://t.co/2G00dD8TIB
— Rep. Andy Harris, MD (@RepAndyHarrisMD) March 7, 2021
Harris has pushed for the abandonment of the two-dose strategy for the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines by pointing to U.K.-based research showing the efficacy in one dose in people who previously contracted the novel coronavirus. Harris criticized the FDA’s unwillingness to change its emergency use authorization amid U.S. government scientists saying that they haven’t found enough evidence that supports a single dose providing long-term protection against the infectious disease.
Although more research has yet to be done on the long-term effects of the COVID-19 vaccines, Harris told the Baltimore Sun that the benefits of inoculations “clearly outweigh the risks” and that most vaccines don’t provoke serious side effects.
According to the Baltimore Sun, Harris expects that those who are hesitant to receive the vaccine will come around to getting vaccinated upon seeing its effectiveness, but that he resists the notion of a federal push to mandate vaccinations for citizens.
Harris was able to voluntarily help with vaccine distribution on Tuesday morning because he didn’t need to be in D.C. until later in the day. Harris told the Baltimore Sun that he plans to continue administering vaccines as distribution expands.
Harford County Health Officer David Bishai said Harris spontaneously volunteered to administer vaccines after the National Association of County and City Health Officials arranged a meeting two weeks ago, according to the Baltimore Sun.
Harris said his intention behind his vaccine distribution efforts was to encourage other health professionals to volunteer as well.
“I actually practice in a hospital. Is that a PR stunt too?” Harris told the Baltimore Sun. “I still have a license, and I would urge every licensed physician and nurse to do it.”
Harris’ assistance in administering vaccines comes amid the White House expressing its concerns with recent polling showing higher vaccine hesitancy among Republicans, with some Republican governors also raising alarms over the partisan divide on vaccinations to combat the pandemic.