Coronavirus Update

Rand Paul Says He Will Not Receive a COVID-19 Vaccine

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) speaks during at a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to examine the COVID-19 response on Capitol Hill, March 18, 2021. (Anna Moneymaker/Pool via Reuters)

Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) said Sunday that despite the CDC’s guidance, he will not receive a COVID-19 vaccine because he has already had the disease. 

Paul, an ophthalmologist, said during an interview on John Catsimatidis’ radio show that until he sees evidence that immunity from the vaccine is better than natural immunity, he will not be vaccinated.

Paul, who in March 2020 became the first senator to test positive for COVID-19, said it was a personal decision.

“Until they show me evidence that people who have already had the infection are dying in large numbers, or being hospitalized or getting very sick, 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,” Paul said. 

However, the CDC recommends that even those who have previously contracted the virus get vaccinated as it is unclear how long natural immunity lasts. Paul argued that no one should be forced to receive a vaccine.

“In a free country you would think people would honor the idea that each individual would get to make the medical decision, that it wouldn’t be a big brother coming to tell me what I have to do,” Paul said. 

“Are they also going to tell me I can’t have a cheeseburger for lunch? Are they going to tell me that I have to eat carrots only and cut my calories?” Paul continued. “All that would probably be good for me, but I don’t think big brother ought to tell me to do it.”

Meanwhile, officials are working to encourage more Americans to get vaccinated as demand for the shots has slowed. According to the CDC, 60.8 percent of adults have received at least one dose, while 48.8 percent have been fully vaccinated.

A number of Paul’s Republican colleagues in the Senate, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) have urged Americans to get vaccinated.

McConnell and other lawmakers were among the first Americans to receive the coronavirus vaccine in December 2020. At the time, they were met with backlash and congressional infighting over the ethics and optics of politicians receiving the shots ahead of some frontline workers and at-risk groups.

According to a CNN survey of Congress members earlier this month, all 219 House Democrats and 50 Democrats in the Senate are vaccinated. In the House, 95 of 212 Republican House members said they were vaccinated, while 46 of 50 Senate Republicans said they had received the shots. Two Republican senators reported that they had not been vaccinated while another two refused to answer the question.

In March, Senator Ron Johnson (R., Wis.), like Paul, said he had not been vaccinated because he had COVID last fall.

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