Congressman Cohen Urges All to Get Coronavirus Vaccine

September 13, 2021
Press Release
Polio could have been prevented by receiving vaccine

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, today spoke against an amendment to the Budget Reconciliation bill during the full Committee mark up of the measure. The amendment by Congressman Tom McClintock (CA-04) would have allowed community violence prevention grantees to ignore President Biden’s vaccination requirement announced last week.

In his remarks, Congressman Cohen said in part:

“Benjamin Franklin and my father had something in common, unfortunately. Benjamin Franklin chose, back in the early 1700s, not to inoculate his young child, four years of age, with the smallpox vaccine. His child died. He regretted that decision the rest of his life…

“My father was a physician. He gave the Salk vaccine during its experimental stages in 1954 to second grade students in Memphis, Tennessee…He thought about taking some vaccine home to give to me. He’d given the vaccine to my older brother, who was in the second grade at Idlewild Elementary School. Because it was outside the protocol, he did not take the vaccine home as he easily could have done and given me the shot…He did the right professional thing.

“Four months later, I came down with polio. It affected me. For the next three months when I was in the hospital and following year when I was on crutches. It has affected me all my life. As many of you know, I limp and have trouble standing because of polio and post-polio which I suffer from now.

“My father, like Benjamin Franklin, regretted it the rest of his life not having given me the polio shot.

“I am a strong proponent of vaccinations. Every state in our nation requires children to have vaccinations of many kinds, and nobody objects. President Biden is authorized by law to mandate vaccinations in public emergencies. And if it’s going to be questioned in the courts, and it will be, that will determine whether it’s constitutional or not. But from a public safety perspective, I think President Biden is doing the right thing. And I, as someone who suffered from not having the vaccination when it was available – and it became available to all in 1955 –and have suffered from it, felt it necessary to make these remarks and encourage everybody to take the shot…I urge defeat of this amendment and all Americans to get vaccinated and wear a mask, and defeat this pandemic.”

See Congressman Cohen’s entire remarks here.