OPINION - Guest column

OPINION | SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: The reasoning behind getting vaccinated

A few months ago, I decided to take advantage of President Trump's Operation Warp Speed and get vaccinated.

Like many of you, I have had a lot of misinformation thrown at me by politicians and the media during the pandemic. And, like many of you, I spent a lot of time sorting through it all, trying to make the best decision I could for myself and my family.

What I found was simple: Dr. Fauci and the "because science says so" crowd of arrogant, condescending politicians and bureaucrats were wrong about more than their mandates and shutdowns that have inflicted incalculable harm on our people and economy. They also misjudged the Trump vaccine plan, which rolled out just as safely, quickly, and effectively as the Trump administration promised.

When the Trump administration initiated Operation Warp Speed in May 2020, the president stated that a vaccine would become available by December of that year at the very latest. From the moment he made his announcement, the "expert" class tried to undermine those statements with baseless fear-mongering.

The New York Times ran an opinion piece claiming that whatever the Trump administration released would likely be a dangerous political stunt. CNN did the same. But no one did more to undercut public confidence in the vaccine than Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Biden doubted that the vaccine would be "real," while Harris said in a nationally-televised debate that she would not take any vaccine the Trump administration had a hand in creating.

We all know what happened after the first vaccines were announced on Nov. 9, right after the presidential election. Scientists quickly began to praise the results of Operation Warp Speed, but by then the damage was already done. Because of what they heard from politicians and TV "experts," many Americans were scared the vaccines were not safe.

If President Biden, Vice President Harris, and others on the left truly care about increasing the vaccination rate and saving lives, they should admit they were wrong to cast doubt on Operation Warp Speed and give President Trump and his team the credit they are due for the development of a safe and effective vaccine in record time.

Based on the advice of my doctor, I determined that the benefits of getting vaccinated outweighed any potential risks.

I was also reassured after President Trump and his family were vaccinated. If getting vaccinated was safe enough for them, I felt it was safe enough for me.

As a candidate for governor, I interact with thousands of Arkansans. Being vaccinated would not only protect me but others as well, particularly those at highest risk.

I love Arkansas, and care about our people. When small businesses first took a hit at the beginning of the pandemic, I knew we had to do something to help. So my husband Bryan and I launched the Arkansas 30 Day Fund, raising and donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to small businesses across our state to keep their doors open and save jobs.

It was heartbreaking to witness men and women break down and cry with fear they would lose everything. It's something I never want to experience again. I believe the Trump vaccine will help keep our state open for business and our economy growing.

I believe in freedom and personal responsibility. Arkansans should not be told they can't work because their businesses or jobs are not essential. Our schools or churches should not be shut down. Large gatherings should not be banned. There should not be mandates to get vaccinated or to wear masks.

I understand that the decision to be vaccinated is deeply personal and not an easy one to make.

I have many friends who have expressed sincere concerns about being vaccinated, and it isn't my place to tell them what to do. But I also know that, like many others I've spoken with on the campaign trail, they are actively seeking information to help them make the decision that is right for them.

As the number of covid cases and hospitalizations once again rise exponentially in Arkansas, information is emerging that I hope people will consider.

Recent data demonstrates that those Arkansans who are not vaccinated are at significantly greater risk for serious illness from covid. In fact, 98 percent of covid patients currently hospitalized in our state and 99 percent of recent covid deaths were people who were not vaccinated. It's clear that the Trump vaccine works and is saving lives.

The benefits of getting vaccinated extend beyond protection from covid. Many of our hospitals are now dangerously close to maximum capacity due to rising covid cases. Our heroic doctors and nurses who have stood on the front lines of the pandemic need the ability to treat patients with other serious illnesses and emergencies as well.

Some pundits and politicians have resorted to bribing, mocking, and even name-calling to coerce people into taking the vaccine. But the truth is that many Arkansans who have concerns are simply trying to make responsible decisions for themselves, their families, and their communities.

So to anyone still considering the merits of vaccination, I leave you with this encouragement: Pray about it, discuss it with your family and your doctor. Filter out the noise and fear-mongering and condescension, and make the best, most informed decision you can that helps your family, community, and our great state be its very best.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who served as press secretary under President Donald Trump from 2017 to 2019, is a resident of Little Rock.