After a recent study suggested that Republican men are skeptical of getting the COVID-19 vaccine, the Senate’s GOP leader encouraged the group to get the shot as soon as they can.
“I can say as a Republican man, as soon as it was my turn, I took the vaccine. I would encourage all Republican men to do that,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters on Monday, in response to the study.
"There is no good argument not to get the vaccination,” he added. “I would encourage all men regardless of party affiliation to get the vaccination"
According to an NPR-PBS Newshour-Marist poll, 49% of Republican men said they would not get the shot, compared to 6% of Democratic men who responded the same way.
A recent Monmouth University poll also suggested that 36% of Republicans say they don’t plan to get inoculated, compared to 6% of Democrats; a study from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 42% of Republicans say they probably or definitely will not get the shot, compared with 17% of Democrats.
McConnell received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Dec. 2020 by Dr. Brian Monahan, Congress' Attending Physician, as part of continuity-of-government protocols.
The news comes on the heels of former President Donald Trump recommending the vaccine to his followers.
“I would recommend it,” Trump said in a recent phone interview with Fox News. “And I would recommend it to a lot of people that don't want to get it, and a lot of those people voted for me, frankly.”
It’s the second time Trump has publicly endorsed the vaccines — he also did so at last month’s Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida. But, unlike other political figures, he has not made a forceful push to promote the shots.
Trump said in the same interview he was sympathetic to those who choose not to get vaccinated.
“We have our freedoms, and we have to live by that, and I agree with that also," said Trump, whose administration's "Operation Warp Speed" helped in the development and rollout of vaccines. “But it's a great vaccine, it's a safe vaccine, and it's something that works.”
Trump and his wife, Melania, were not vaccinated on camera, unlike former Vice President Mike Pence, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, who received their vaccines live on television. The Trumps received the vaccine before leaving the White House in January, but that only became public earlier this month when one of his advisers disclosed it to the press.
And Trump is the only living former president who does not appear in a public service announcement campaign urging Americans to get vaccinated.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser, said recently that it would be a “game changer” if Trump used his popularity among Republicans to persuade his followers to get the vaccine.
In a recent interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Biden said he’s perplexed by some people’s refusal to get vaccinated.
“I just don't understand this sort of macho thing about 'I'm not going to get the vaccine, I have a right as an American, my freedom to not do it,’” Biden said. “Well, why don't you be a patriot, protect other people?”
Biden received his two doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Dec. 21 and Jan. 11. He said being vaccinated has changed his life in two ways.
“I can hug my grandkids now,” he said. “They come over to the house. I can see them. I'm able to be with them.
“And secondly, it has changed my life in the sense that I've been able to demonstrate to other people ... that it is safe to take the vaccine. It's important to take the vaccine.”
Spectrum News' Ryan Chatelain contributed to this report.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.