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MADISON, Wis. — Fewer than half of Wisconsin’s 99 representatives and 33 senators are disclosing whether or not they’ve received the COVID-19 vaccine, after a News 3 Investigates survey asked all current state lawmakers whether or not they had been vaccinated.

Click here to see whether or not your state lawmaker says they’re vaccinated–and why.

Forty-three* lawmakers responded confirming that they had been vaccinated, after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported earlier this week that Sen. André Jacque (R-De Pere) had been hospitalized with pneumonia related to COVID-19. He had participated, unmasked, in a packed public hearing days earlier regarding bills banning educators from teaching critical race theory-related concepts.

“At the time I tested positive, I was largely asymptomatic with the exception of fatigue,” Sen. Jacque said in a statement, adding he has had pneumonia before. He has not disclosed his vaccination status. “Fatigue has been a long-standing health concern of mine.”

In February, News 3 Investigates polled the legislature on whether or not they planned to get the vaccine. Once lawmakers are factored in who told N3I they were planning to get a vaccine once they became eligible, the number of lawmakers likely vaccinated that we know about rises to 59, or about 44% of the legislature.

That number includes 16 Republican lawmakers, including the legislature’s three top Republicans: Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate leader Devin LeMahieu told reporters earlier in the year they would likely get vaccinated. Assembly majority leader Jim Steineke tweeted on August 11 that he was vaccinated.

All Senate Democrats confirmed to News 3 Now that they were vaccinated.

Most Republicans, however, aren’t disclosing their vaccination status. Out of the 69 lawmakers who didn’t respond in either February or August, with the exception of two lawmakers elected in special elections since then, 62 of them are Republicans.

Click here to see whether or not your state lawmaker says they’re vaccinated–and why.

The news comes as Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services releases data showing COVID-19 hospitalizations have been at least three times higher among the unvaccinated in Wisconsin, compared to those who are fully vaccinated.

DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake said the state’s recent hike in cases is “being largely driven by the Delta variant, and the overwhelming majority of people who are contracting COVID have not been fully vaccinated.”

“One of the most important ways that we can help our constituents is by sending a very clear public health message,” Senator Kelda Roys (D-Madison) said.

Roys is eight months pregnant, due to give birth in September. The baby will join her two other young children, and her health condition and their safety is her first concern.

“Pregnant people are at high risk of hospitalization and complications if they contract Covid,” she said. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says pregnant and recently pregnant people are at higher risk for severe illness from the virus.) “I also have young children at home who are too young to be vaccinated, so the idea I could bring the virus home to them after catching it at the capitol is of real concern to my family.”

Republicans who weighed in urged people to talk to their doctor.

“I am fully vaccinated,” Sen Joan Ballweg said. “In consultation with my doctor, I decided receiving the vaccine was the best choice for me.” Sen. Robert Cowles in a statement also urged people to consult their doctors about the decision.

While several have urged medical consultations alongside both a freedom of choice and a right to privacy about vaccination statuses, other lawmakers have spread misinformation about the vaccine on their social media platforms.

“As we learn more about this so-called vaccine, it is not really a vaccine,” Rep. Scott Allen (R-Racine) posted on Facebook earlier in August, posting a link to a video spreading decontextualized data and misinformation about the mRNA vaccines.

The vast majority of health experts and major health organizations say the vaccine is safe, and effective against serious illness resulting from infection. Full FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine is expected as early as next month.


 

Note: We will update the attached spreadsheet with lawmakers who reach out with responses after publication. On Tuesday, lawmakers were given a deadline of Wednesday at 3pm, or more than 24 hours, to respond.

*This number may vary slightly from the on-air report on August 19, as lawmakers have reached out following that report to confirm vaccination.