Rep. Debbie Dingell pushes own vaccine fears aside to set example for others

Congresswoman had bad vaccine experience before, will still get COVID vaccine now

One of the big issues with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is that some people are afraid to get the shot. Rep. Debbie Dingell's personal experience made her a little fearful about getting the vaccine but she said she will not let it stop her from being a part of the solution.

Like many Americans, one congresswoman has some fears about receiving a coronavirus vaccine -- but she says that shouldn’t stop anyone from receiving their shot.

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, from Michigan, tells Local 4 that her personal experience with vaccinations has made her fearful about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

“I am going to talk really honestly today,” Dingell said in an interview. “I am one of those people who’s been afraid to get vaccinated.”

When receiving an H1N1 flu shot in 2009, Rep. Dingell had a terrible reaction: She was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome -- a rare autoimmune disorder. Dingell has been concerned about receiving another vaccination, especially after being partially paralyzed in her arm from the disorder in 2009.

However, the congresswoman says she has been assured by several experts -- including the nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci -- that the COVID vaccine is not dangerous and will not affect her the same way. She says despite her fears, she is going to receive the vaccine when it’s her turn.

“I am going to be scared to death. Who knows, the sight of the needle may make me faint. But I am going to get vaccinated, and I am going to encourage other people that we’re just going to have to admit we’re scared and go ahead and get that vaccine,” Dingell said.

Michigan COVID-19 vaccinations: How to find appointments, info on phases

Rep. Dingell says she has learned that states have a shortage of syringes and alcohol swabs needed to administer coronavirus vaccines. On Friday, the White House COVID Response Team announced that it plans to use the Defense Production Act to prioritize getting critical supplies for Pfizer, in addition to providing aid in other key areas.

Read: White House COVID Response Team plans to use Defense Production Act

Dingell says that she is currently working on pressing the state to get more vaccines to Metro Detroit, where demand is high but supplies are low.

She also hopes that anyone who is scared like her will overcome their fear of the vaccine and get vaccinated when they can.

Related: 211 lines tied up after MDHHS recommends calling for vaccine help

About the Author:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.