Sununu slams members of Congress who got vaccine

A worker cuts open a New Hampshire shipment of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine last week. Gov. Chris Sununu said it was “outrageous” and “insulting” members of Congress “cut the line” to get the vaccine ahead of first responders and residents of long-term care facilities.

CONCORD — Gov. Chris Sununu said it was “outrageous” and “insulting” that members of Congress such as U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H., were “cutting the line” to get the coronavirus vaccine ahead of more needy New Hampshire residents.

Sununu, 45, took to social media over the weekend to criticize Congress after several confirmed they had gotten a shot, including Kuster and 2020 presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

“Congress has literally done nothing these last eight months. Now they are cutting the line and getting the vaccine ahead of residents in long-term care, nurses and essential workers who stock our shelves,” Sununu posted on Twitter. “It’s outrageous. And insulting.”

Sununu also mocked the notion that members of Congress should have gotten the vaccine because their jobs were essential.

“Since when is doing nothing an essential function?” asked Sununu, a third-term Republican from Newfields.

“It’s ridiculous that Congress is cutting in line ahead of folks in long-term care. I’ll be the first in line to get the vaccine when it’s my turn.”

Hours after that post, congressional leaders announced they had reached agreement on a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package that includes a $600 stimulus check for every American adult and family member for households that earn up to $75,000 a year. The bill also includes $300-per-week additional unemployment benefits.

President-elect Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, got the vaccine in separate appointments on Monday.

Vice President Mike Pence got his shot late last week.

Last week, nearly 1,000 health care workers received the first shots in New Hampshire.

There are nearly 9,000 New Hampshire doses that CVS and Walgreens will begin administering to residents in long-term care settings this week.

Kuster, 64, said that she had gotten the vaccine last week on the advice of her doctor and went public to encourage people to take the vaccine because it was safe and effective.

“Today, upon the advice of my physician, I received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Washington, D.C.,” Kuster said Friday. “I believe in the science, and I want to demonstrate to my constituents in New Hampshire that this vaccine is safe and effective. I will continue to wear a mask, keep social distance and follow CDC recommendations to stop the spread of this vicious virus.”

Supporters said vaccines were made available to leaders in Congress and the Supreme Court to meet continuity of government requirements for national security reasons. 

U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas, D-NH, said on Monday that he’ll wait to get the vaccine.

“I’m not going to take one because I feel that the supply is limited ... I’m going to wait until the general population has access to this,” Pappas, 40, said on the “Chris Ryan in the Morning” show on WKXL-FM in Concord.

In a statement, Pappas urged citizens to be vaccinated.

“I encourage every American to receive a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them, in accordance with their doctor’s recommendations and guidance from public health officials,” Pappas said.

He concluded: “I have every confidence that the vaccines being approved are safe and effective after undergoing the highest levels of testing and scrutiny.”

National and state Republican leaders have been urging Sununu to consider running for the U.S. Senate in 2022 against Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Hassan have not reported that they have received the vaccine.

“Senator Hassan has not received a COVID-19 vaccine. The senator has full confidence in the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines following the FDA’s independent review process,” said Aaron Jacobs, Hassan’s communications director.

“She will get vaccinated at the appropriate time in consultation with medical professionals, and wants to ensure that the first doses go to those at highest risk. The senator will also share publicly once she has been vaccinated, as public officials like Vice President Mike Pence have, to help reinforce public confidence in the vaccine.”

Last month, Sununu won reelection by nearly a 2-1 margin over Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes. His win helped flip both branches of the Legislature and the Executive Council from Democratic to Republican.