At least four GOP senators have revealed that they had yet to receive any COVID-19 vaccinations.
Sens. Mike Braun of Indiana, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Rick Scott of Florida gave varying answers as to why they have yet to receive either the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Sens. Braun, Paul, and Scott previously had contracted COVID-19.
Their answers come in the wake of a February Kaiser Family Foundation poll which showed that 28% of Republican voters said they “definitely won’t” get a vaccine, with even more remaining hesitant.
Sen. Rick Scott
When asked by pool reporters if he had been vaccinated, Scott said, “Not yet, I’ve been talking to my doctor.”
Scott was also asked if his doctor had explicitly told him not to get the vaccine, which he rejected and said, “we’ve been testing for antibodies.”
When he was pressed on the issue and reminded that many who have contracted COVID-19 have also been vaccinated, Scott said, “I’m listening to my doctor, I’m talking to my doctor.”
Sen. Mike Braun
When asked about whether he had been vaccinated, Sen. Mike Braun’s answer was more political.
Braun said he had plans to get vaccinated, and added that “I was waiting for the J&J vaccination and was disappointed that it’s using, you know, aborted fetus in its constitution where it brings up the issue if you’re pro-life it’s got many uneasy with using that.”
Braun added that he was not vaccinated because he was “concerned about not jumping in line in front of everybody.” Based on Indiana’s current vaccine eligibility, Braun is eligible per his own state’s guidelines.
Braun advised others to get a vaccine and said while he likely would not take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, he will “probably end up doing either the Moderna or Pfizer.”
The technology referenced by Braun and opposed by some religious communities consists of cells derived from a fetus aborted in the early 1970s, which have been replicated by different pharmaceutical companies. It is a widely used process in certain antibody drugs.
Sen. Ron Johnson
When asked the same question by CBS 58 Milwaukee on March 10, Johnson simply said, “No, I had COVID, so I don’t believe, you know, I think that probably provides me the best immunity possible, actually having had the disease.”
On Tuesday, speaking with pool reporters, Johnson repeated the same line.
The Washington Post consulted scientists and public health experts and reported that Ron Johnson’s claim was false.
Sen. Rand Paul
Sen. Rand Paul had a similar answer to Johnson. Paul, who had COVID-19 in May 2020, said, “About 30 million people have gotten the infection naturally like myself. I’m going with the science on this one.”
Paul speculated and said, “I have not chosen to be vaccinated because I got it naturally. The interesting thing is that no more than a handful of reports of people getting it again so there’s every indication that having been infected with it provides strong, natural immunity.”
When reporters asked if he would encourage constituents to get vaccinated, Paul said, “I’ve made many public statements in favor of vaccines.”