As Vaccine Availability Increases, Tester Tackles Vaccine Hesitancy in Montana at Commerce Hearing Today

Senator has led the way in securing doses for Montana

At a U.S. Senate Commerce Committee hearing on communicating accurate vaccine information to Americans today, U.S. Senator Jon Tester discussed with panel of expert witnesses how best to address the number of Montanans declining to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Tester urged the hearing witnesses to track and study vaccine refusal rates to better understand what is behind those refusals, and to explore and develop ways to overcome vaccine hesitancy, especially in rural areas. Despite every Montanan over the age of 16 being eligible for a vaccine, this week in Yellowstone County alone, less than 25 percent of available vaccine appointments have been filled.

“As the availability of vaccine has increased, the problem of vaccine hesitancy is turning what used to be a vaccine supply problem in to a vaccine demand problem, and that’s not good news for anyone,” Tester said after the hearing. “Getting shots into arms as quickly as possible is key to beating this pandemic and getting Montana’s economy back on track, which is why we need to do everything we can to help folks understand that these shots are both safe and effective.”

Tester also spoke to the importance of an effective public messaging campaign that could help educate Montanans currently hesitant to take the vaccine, and the need for quality reporting that presents factual information about the vaccine to combat misinformation that leads to vaccine hesitancy.

Tester, Montana’s only member of the Commerce Committee, has worked tirelessly to deliver critical resources to Montana communities to access COVID-19 vaccines and testing. He has worked to bring thousands of additional vaccine doses into Montana, and his bipartisan legislation to allow the VA to provide COVID-19 vaccination services to all veterans, veteran spouses, caregivers, and Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs recipients was signed into law earlier this month.