NIH director: Vaccines should never be political

Collins stopped short of endorsing mandatory vaccination but made it clear he thought public officials should be pushing for unvaccinated Americans to get their shots.

“We ought to use every public health tool we can when people are dying,” he told Stephanopoulos. “Death rates are starting up again. You just went through the numbers about how many new cases we are seeing. We’re in a very steep upswift of that curve. We ought to be thinking of every possible intervention.”

Holding up a mask, Collins said Americans needed to think about saving lives first and foremost, particularly with schools set to reopen.

“I would ask that they would think about masks in the way they ought to be thought about. This is not a political statement or an invasion of your liberties. This is a life-saving medical device. Asking kids to wear a mask is uncomfortable, but, you know, kids are pretty resilient,” he said.

Collins also spoke directly to vaccine skeptics: “If you’re on the fence, get off the fence. … Roll up your sleeve.”