Global Affairs

Scott Walker cuts ad encouraging Covid vaccination

In a new public service announcement to air across Wisconsin television beginning this week and shared with POLITICO, Walker and Doyle banter back and forth.

“Let’s do a commercial together, reminding people in Wisconsin how important it is to be vaccinated,” Walker says in the ad.

“That may be the best idea you’ve ever had,” Doyle responds.

The two joined up as officials in Wisconsin — like many battleground states that are ideologically divided — are attempting to reach out to pockets of the population that have resisted getting vaccinated.

“This isn’t a political issue. This doesn’t invoke Trump or Biden or Fauci or anybody else,” Walker said in an interview. “This is just the two of us saying ‘Hey we agree. We think it’s a good idea to get vaccinated.’”

UW Health, an academic medical system that is affiliated with the University of Wisconsin, which is behind the public service announcement, moved to cut the ad as the state attempts to address a sharp disparity in vaccination rates in different counties. In Wisconsin, some counties are seeing less than 30 percent vaccination rates while others are nearing 70 percent.

Like other parts of the country, there are low percentage rates in both rural and urban areas in Wisconsin, representing hesitancy across the ideological spectrum. Most publicly-available data shows that the constituency least likely to get vaccinated in America are Trump supporters. In Wisconsin, that has not been helped by the fact that the states most prominent Republican elected official, Sen. Ron Johnson, has expressed skepticism about the need for people to get vaccinated quickly.

But African American communities, which vote overwhelmingly Democratic, have seen lower rates of vaccination too. In Wisconsin, some of that has been attributed to access to the vaccine, though disinformation campaigns have been cited as well.

“We knew we were going to have a sizeable population of vaccine hesitant individuals on both the right and the left where politics was at least partially a factor,” said UW Health spokesperson Tom Russell. “We thought a strange-bedfellows ad might be a good way to break down some resistance to getting the vaccine and demonstrate that it really is something that’s good for all of Wisconsin.”

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