Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)—one of a minority of Senators who hasn’t yet been vaccinated against Covid-19—declared Sunday he won’t be getting the jab because he previously contracted Covid-19, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still urges inoculation for those who have been infected with the virus.
Though Paul previously signaled he was waiting to get the jab, the Kentucky senator told radio host John Catsimatidis in a Sunday morning interview he’s made the “personal decision” not to get the shot at all.
Paul, a physician who was the first senator to announce he’d tested positive for the virus in March of last year, cited his previous infection as the reason why he won’t be getting vaccinated.
The Republican declared he now has “natural immunity” and sees no need for getting the vaccine as he hasn’t seen evidence “that people who have already had the infection are dying in large numbers, or being hospitalized or getting sick.”
This runs contrary to guidance from the CDC, which advises people who have had the virus to still get vaccinated because “experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from Covid-19.”
“I just made my own personal decision that I’m not getting vaccinated because I’ve already had the disease and I have natural immunity now,” Paul said during the radio interview.
Paul is one of just three U.S. senators who have publicly said they are still not vaccinated or aren’t planning to be in the future. Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) also haven’t been vaccinated, with Johnson citing the same justification as Paul and Braun voicing concerns over ties vaccinations have to abortion-derived cell lines.
This comes as polling shows Republicans are still more hesitant to get the vaccine than Democrats and Independents. A poll from PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marsist earlier this month found 41% of Republicans say they don’t plan on getting vaccinated, versus 4% of Democrats. Some Republican leaders, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), have tried to combat this hesitancy by appealing specifically to Republican men.
Paul has frequently sparred with Dr. Anthony Fauci during Senate hearings about the pandemic, pressing the top infectious diseases official on what he’s characterized as unfair restrictions, including mask wearing, and the origins of the Covid-19.
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