Raskin: I Felt ‘Reborn’ After Getting COVID Vaccine

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) receiving the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Capitol on Friday. Photo courtesy of Office of Rep. Steny H. Hoyer.

Most members of Maryland’s congressional delegation are planning to get the COVID-19 vaccine soon, and three have already received it.

Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D) received his shot late Friday. In an interview over the weekend, he said he found the experience to be exhilarating. 

“When I got the shot, I said to myself, ‘I have not felt this good since I voted,’” he said. “It just feels like an act of pure patriotism, and suddenly [Bruce] Springsteen’s song ‘Badlands’ kept going through my mind with the line ‘It ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive.’”

The Attending Physician at the Capitol has recommended that members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives receive the coronavirus vaccine to maintain continuity of government.

After receiving the first dose, people are asked to remain in the vaccination room for 20 minutes or so, in case they have a reaction.

Raskin said he ended up hanging out with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Del. Stacey E. Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands), a former student. 

“We were in a room with a vision chart, an eye chart. So I decided to challenge everybody to an eye exam,” Raskin said with a laugh. 

The lawmaker said he is grateful to the people who labored to develop the various COVID-19 vaccines.

“Science has come through for us in a huge way. In the face of all the denialism and the propaganda and disinformation, the scientists came through for humanity.”

Everyone who is offered the vaccine should take it, the Montgomery County Democrat said. 

“Call my wife. She will tell you I’ve been unable to sleep. I’m like born again, to know that we’re going to be able to get everybody out of this.”

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D) also received the vaccine on Friday. In a statement, the 81-year-old lawmaker called it “safe and effective.” He got vaccinated after Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) “and other senior government leaders” got their doses.

“In the weeks and months ahead, as doses continue to be made available on a rolling basis, I strongly encourage every American who is able to get vaccinated,” he said. “Doing so will both save lives in our communities and help us emerge more quickly from lockdowns and closures so we can build back our economy.” 

Hoyer said he will continue to wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash his hands frequently, “and do my part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. That is what we all must continue to do while the vaccine is being deployed around the country and across the world.”

Rep. John P. Sarbanes (D) also got vaccinated. In a statement, he expressed hope that “Marylanders and Americans cross the country sign up to receive the vaccine as it becomes increasingly available over the next several months.”

With the rollout of vaccination efforts on Capitol Hill ramping up, here’s what other Maryland lawmakers are planning:

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D): “I wholly trust in the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, and I intend to receive it,” he said in a statement. “Before doing so, my first priority is to pass a COVID relief package and ensure that there are the necessary resources to distribute the vaccine throughout our country.”

Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D) and Reps. Anthony G. Brown (D) and David J. Trone (D) intend to take the vaccine but did not have appointments as of Saturday, according to spokespeople. 

“I absolutely look forward to getting vaccinated. I am not yet scheduled to do so,” said Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D) in a statement. “Right now, my top priority is getting our doctors, nurses and healthcare workers vaccinated.”

In a twitter post on Friday, Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D) said he will get vaccinated “as soon as a COVID disaster relief bill clears Congress.” 

“I wholeheartedly urge every American to take the vaccine as soon as they are eligible,” he added.

After months at an impasse, Congress was finally expected to pass a COVID-19 relief bill early this week. 

Rep. Andrew P. Harris (R) did not respond to a request for comment. 

Harris is as anesthesiologist, but he has pushed back against some of the public health orders issued by Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) and various local leaders.

According to The Baltimore Sun, the lawmaker appeared to suggest, during a recent town hall meeting, that there might be benefits to not being the first in line for the new vaccines. 

“I would say, ‘Look, let people who have higher risk get the first batch of vaccines,’ ” the congressman said. “They need it more because they’re high risk and more will be known about the vaccines in a few months. If you’re at lower risk, you might want to wait a little bit for it.”

As for women who are — or are hoping to become — pregnant, Harris said “there is reason to believe it may increase the miscarriage rate.”

On its website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, “While studies have not yet been done, based on how mRNA vaccines work, experts believe they are unlikely to pose a risk for people who are pregnant.”

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Editor’s Note: This story was updated to include a response from Rep. John P. Sarbanes.