The Slatest

Rand Paul: “I’m Not Getting Vaccinated Because I’ve Already Had the Disease”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) asks a question during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on May 11, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) asks a question during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on May 11, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. JIM LO SCALZO/Getty Images

Sen. Rand Paul said he has no plans to get the COVID-19 vaccine for now because he was already infected with the virus and says that’s just as good as the shot. Paul, who was the first known senator to test positive for the virus in March of last year, told John Catsimatidis on his WABC 770 AM radio show Sunday that whether to get a vaccine or not should be a personal decision because “in a free society each individual assumes their own risk.”

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Paul says that he still hasn’t seen enough evidence to convince him he should get the shot. “Should they force people to get vaccinated who already had COVID and survived? First they have to prove the vaccine is better than being infected,” Paul said, emphasizing he wasn’t advocating anyone get the virus on purpose. “A lot of us got infected whether we wanted to or not … and I think we should have a choice whether we take a vaccine or not because frankly all the studies show that I have just as good immunity as the people who’ve been vaccinated.”

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Paul said he’s open to changing his mind, but would have to see more data first. “Now in a year’s time if people say, ‘Oh people that had it naturally are getting infected a lot more than people who’ve been vaccinated,’ I might change my mind. But until they show me evidence that people who already had the infection are dying in large numbers or are 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 now.”

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The Centers for Disease Control insists that those who already had COVID-19 should still get vaccinated because experts are unsure of how long natural immunity lasts. “Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible—although rare—that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again,” the CDC says on its website. Experts say there are indications that the natural immunity to COVID-19 starts decreasing after 90 days and it’s unclear how much it protects people from variants of the virus. Plus those who get reinfected are at risk for a more serious illness. “You can get COVID more than once,” Charlotte Baker, assistant professor of epidemiology at Virginia Tech, told NPR. “And some people who early on got COVID and then got it again had much worse outcomes.”

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Paul, an ophthalmologist who has frequently been critical of Anthony Fauci and mask mandates in general, insists whether anyone gets vaccinated should be a personal choice. “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, you know, cut my calories? All that is probably good for me, but I don’t think Big Brother ought to tell me to do it,” he said.

CNN carried out a survey recently and found that while all Democratic lawmakers in both chambers of Congress have been vaccinated against COVID-19, the numbers are lower for Republicans. In the House of Representatives, at least 44.8 percent of Republicans are vaccinated while 92 percent of GOP senators have said they received the vaccine.

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