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Watch: Nick Offerman addresses Congress about ‘gift’ of COVID-19 vaccine, encourages Americans to be ‘good neighbors’

‘The vaccine is a gift from the world’s greatest scientists and thinkers and activists,’ the Parks and Recreation actor told members of the U.S. House of Representatives

Actor Nick Offerman testifies to a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee about the coronavirus vaccine on Wednesday May 26, 2021.
A screenshot of actor Nick Offerman testifying before Congress to a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee about the coronavirus vaccine on Wednesday May 26, 2021.
Screenshot, YouTube

Actor Nick Offerman wants you to get the coronavirus vaccine. So much that he testified — while under oath — to Congress on Wednesday about vaccine hesitancy and the importance that all Americans act, not as individuals, but “as a good neighbor.”

The actor, who is also a professional woodworker and small-business owner, addressed members of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations at a Wednesday hearing titled, “A shot at normalcy: Building COVID-19 vaccine confidence.” A panel of medical and health care experts followed Offerman with their own testimonies.

The subcommittee hearing comes as coronavirus vaccination rates in the county have leveled off this last month, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

‘The vaccine is a gift’

Offerman — who played government bureaucracy skeptic Ron Swanson on the NBC sitcom “Parks and Recreation” — told House subcommittee members that, “as an actor, author and woodworker” he would “not be offering medical advice,” but would address the subcommittee as a medically ignorant representative of “feet on the ground, hands in the dirt, people across our country whose lives and livelihoods have taken a pounding from this pandemic,” according to an official recording of the hearing that was later uploaded to YouTube. He added that he was also speaking from his personal perspective as a “small-business owner and proud Midwesterner.”

He understands why people have called the vaccine a “miracle,” given the speed of development and success the vaccine, but said calling it a miracle wasn’t quite accurate,” Offerman said.

  • “A miracle is something inexplicable, that appears from nowhere, sent by unseen forces. The vaccine is not a miracle.”
  • “The vaccine is a gift from the world’s greatest scientists and thinkers and activists. It’s the product of human ingenuity — the absolute pinnacle of achievement — created out of whole cloth by a bunch of dang geniuses who have saved us from endless death and destruction by solving a complex problem of microbiology in record time.”
  • “The science didn’t arrive overnight. The science is based on 40 years of work. The hustle was just applied to getting that science to you and me by bypassing usual bureaucratic hurdle — the red tape.”

Vaccines helped the economy open

Offerman told the subcommittee, that like many Americans, his work as an actor was temporarily halted during the pandemic and only resumed because actors and crews of those shows “listened to the doctors and we thought about each other.”

His business, the Offerman Woodshop, and partnered nonprofit Would Works — which trains and employs homeless Los Angelinas — were only able to reopen after development of the vaccine, he said.

  • “Because of the heightened medical vulnerability of the unhoused population (Would Works) serves, that program has been officially closed since March of 2020 — losing us a year of revenue and leaving our artisans out in the cold.”
  • “But now due to the ubiquity of vaccines in LA County, we are poised to relaunch all of our programs this summer.”

The actor and woodworker also blamed “disinformation from social media platforms with no oversight” for the mask and vaccine hesitancy he’s seen in his own family in Illinois. He again encouraged people to follow the science and success of the vaccine.

  • “I urge anyone who not yet been vaccinated to catch my enthusiasm and hear the smart people who are about to speak.”
  • “Medicine doesn’t care who you voted for. We amazing humans have created a vaccine that serves the common good. The vaccine doesn’t take sides unless you count alive versus dead.”

Later in the hearing, Offermam called on Americans to get the coronavirus vaccine, not just for their own health, but “as a member of a community, or as a good neighbor, or a good citizen.”

How to watch Offerman testify to Congress

You can watch all of Offerman’s testimony, and those of the panel of medical professionals, here: A Shot at Normalcy: Building COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence

And, if — like Ron Swanson — you’d prefer to skip the congressional bureaucracy at the beginning of Wednesday’s panel, Offerman begins his testimony around 34:30 into the hearing.