Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHouse passes standalone bill to provide B for Israel's Iron Dome Pelosi vows to avert government shutdown McConnell calls Trump a 'fading brand' in Woodward-Costa book MORE (R-Ky.) said on Wednesday that he did not realize it would be difficult to convince Americans to take the COVID-19 vaccine as the nation deals with soaring cases occurring in the unvaccinated.
“Here, we did — developed three highly effective vaccines in under one year. Honestly, it never occurred to me we would have difficulty getting people to take the vaccine,” McConnell told Fox Business Network host Larry Kudlow, a former White House official.
“So, clearly, we have got a job to do to try to convince reluctant Americans of all types who seem to be holding back, unconvinced that this is the right thing to do,” McConnell added.
McConnell said that the subject of vaccines hits close to home for him as a polio survivor, noting it took decades to develop vaccines for it.
McConnell’s comments come as the number of vaccinated Americans reaches a plateau. The U.S. was not able to meet an earlier goal by President BidenJoe BidenTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe House passes sweeping defense policy bill MORE to have 70 percent of American adults get at least one shot of the vaccine by July 4.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 69 percent of Americans aged 18 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 60 percent are fully vaccinated.
States such as Florida and Arkansas have seen recent surges in COVID-19 cases as pockets of communities remain unvaccinated and the delta variant spreads rapidly.
McConnell had previously told Reuters that he blamed "bad advice" for lower vaccination rates.
"There is bad advice out there, you know. Apparently you see that all over the place: people practicing medicine without a license, giving bad advice. And that bad advice should be ignored," McConnell told Reuters.
McConnell has been one of the few consistent voices within the GOP encouraging people to be vaccinated amid a political divide on the issue.