Senate Minority Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he believes “all men, regardless of political affiliation,” should receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
His comments came about two weeks after former President Donald Trump advised all Americans to get vaccinated as well.
McConnell made his comments Monday afternoon while answering questions at the Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) risk clinic in Perry County, Ky. He visited the clinic to thank healthcare workers and express his support for the vaccine.
A reporter in attendance asked McConnell about a recent PBS NewsTime/ NPR / Marist poll in which 49% of Republican men said they would not get the vaccine. The poll surveyed 1,227 American adults from March 3-8. He had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.
“Two of [the vaccines] are 90% effective, “said McConnell, referring to the Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.” One of them is 70% effective, “he added, referring to the Johnson and Johnson vaccine .
“I didn’t realize until the start of this pandemic that the flu shot is only 50 percent effective, and that a lot of people get the flu shot. So there’s no good argument. so as not to get vaccinated, ”McConnell added. “I would encourage all men, regardless of party affiliation, to get vaccinated.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says annual influenza vaccines provide 40-60% immunity against seasonal strains of influenza.
On March 16, Trump told Fox News host Maria Bartiromo that he would recommend the vaccine to the network’s conservative audience.
“I would. I would recommend it,” Trump said. “I would recommend it to a lot of people who don’t want to get it, and a lot of those people voted for me, frankly.”
“But again, we have our freedoms and we have to live by that, and I agree with that as well,” he added. “But it’s a great vaccine. It’s a safe vaccine and it’s something that works.”
Trump also mentioned that he and Melania Trump, the former first lady, both received vaccines and encouraged others to do the same.
The former president’s remarks came a day after White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden’s administration would appreciate Donald Trump being “more vocal on security and efficiency “vaccine.
“We would support this,” she told reporters. “All the other living presidents have participated in public campaigns.”
On March 14, Biden encouraged all local doctors, preachers, ministers and priests to tell members of their conservative community to get vaccinated and wear masks.
Epidemiologists estimate that 70% of the population will need to develop immunity against COVID-19 in order to end the pandemic, whether through vaccination or other means, according to Scientific magazine.
During McConnell’s other comments at the ARH Risk Clinic on Monday, he said no Republican congressman signed the $ 1.9 trillion COVID stimulus bill recently passed by Biden. because they felt it contained too much non-pandemic expense. Democrats helped Republicans pass Trump’s previous pandemic stimulus bills with bipartisan support.
Asked about recent mass shootings and a Democratic bill adding background checks of certain types of gun buyers, McConnell said he didn’t want to make it harder for law-abiding Americans to acquire guns for self-defense. Instead, he said, he and Republicans in Congress are more interested in how to prevent people with mental illness from getting guns.
Newsweek contacted McConnell for comment.