FACT CHECK: Did Anthony Fauci Say 40-50% Of CDC And FDA Employees Refuse To Take The COVID-19 Vaccine?
An image shared on Facebook claims White House coronavirus adviser Anthony Fauci and director of Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Peter Marks said 40 to 50 percent of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and FDA employees refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
When asked at a recent Senate hearing about what percentage of employees had received COVID-19 vaccines, Fauci and Marks said that around 50 to 60 percent at their organizations had done so. The CDC director stated she was unsure of how many CDC employees have been vaccinated. None of them gave estimates about percentages of employees refusing the vaccines at the hearing.
The FDA has currently authorized three COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use: Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Now some social media users are sharing a screen grab of a tweet that claims Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) that is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Marks said 40 to 50 percent of CDC and FDA employees had refused to take a COVID-19 vaccine.
Fauci and Marks, along with CDC director Rochelle Walensky and U.S. Department of Health chief science officer David Kessler, spoke before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on May 11 about efforts to combat the novel coronavirus, according to the Senate committee’s website.
Footage of the hearing posted by CNBC shows that during the hearing, Republican North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr asked, “What percentage of the employees in your institute, your center, or your agency of your employees has been vaccinated?” Neither Fauci nor Marks, however, said 40 to 50 percent of CDC and FDA employees refused to be vaccinated in response.
“You know I’m not 100% sure, Senator. But I think it’s probably a little bit more than half, probably around 60 percent,” Fauci said, while Marks said, “I can’t tell you the exact number, but it’s probably in the same range. Some people vaccinated at our facility and others outside of the facility.”
Walensky said that while the CDC has been encouraging its employees to get vaccinated, it “does not know” what percentage of its employees have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine so far.
“Our staff have the option to report their vaccination status, but as you understand, the federal government is not requiring it, so we do not know,” Walensky said.
Additionally, a FDA spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Check Your Fact that the claim was “absolutely false.” (RELATED: Will The FDA Not Authorize Or Approve Any COVID-19 Vaccine?)
“Because the FDA does not mandate vaccinations or require staff to report their vaccinations, we do not know the exact percentage of our staff who have not yet been vaccinated, but we have been encouraged to hear from the large number of our staff who have chosen to be vaccinated,” the statement reads.
The NIAID told Check Your Fact that Fauci was talking about NIH employees in general when he answered the senator’s question.
“He did not say that 40 to 50% are refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine,” the NIAID said. “As of this week, about 75 percent of NIAID staff has been vaccinated, either because they have been vaccinated at the NIH or because they have voluntarily self-reported receiving a vaccine in the community. The actual number is likely higher, given that NIH does not require self-reporting of vaccination received in the community.”
As of press time, around 60.5% of adults in the U.S. have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the CDC’s tracker.