Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Said he received his coronavirus booster on Monday, telling Americans “mountains of evidence” show vaccines to be safe and effective.
The announcement came hours after President Joe Biden received his third COVID-19 injection live on camera and days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved booster shots for millions of people in the United States who received their second injection of the Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago.
McConnell, 79, has been one of the strongest supporters of the coronavirus vaccine among GOP lawmakers. In a speech in the Senate Monday afternoon, he said it was an “easy decision” to get the vaccine given his childhood experience with polio before a vaccine was available.
“I have always been a champion of immunizations,” he said, adding that overwhelming evidence indicates that injections are safe, effective and significantly reduce the risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19.
“They are also how we stay on offense against COVID as a country,” he added, urging all Americans to speak with their doctors about immunizations.
McConnell’s early alignment with Biden on vaccines was incongruous with much of his party until recently, when more Republican officials began to publicly endorse the vaccines. He was one of the early right-wing advocates, hailing the vaccine’s life-saving efficacy even as some of his GOP colleagues fueled hesitation over the vaccine or stressed the importance of individual freedoms.
People 65 years of age and older, residents of long-term care facilities, and people aged 50 to 64 who have underlying health conditions should receive a booster shot of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their second injection of Pfizer, the CDC recommended last week.
People aged 18 to 49 with underlying health conditions or who are at increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 may receive a booster injection within the same time frame.
Federal authorization for booster injections has not been issued for the other two available vaccines, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky said in a statement Friday that the agency would urgently review recommendations for these two vaccines.
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