Rand Paul: 'I'm not getting vaccinated'

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulFauci to Chelsea Clinton: The 'phenomenal amount of hostility' I face is 'astounding' GOP's attacks on Fauci at center of pandemic message Fox host claims Fauci lied to Congress, calls for prosecution MORE (R-Ky.) said Sunday that he will not be getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

During an interview with John Catsimatidis on his radio show on WABC 770 AM, Paul, an ophthalmologist, said he’s making the personal decision because he’s already had COVID-19.

Paul tested positive for COVID-19 in March 2020. At the time, he was the first known senator to have contracted the disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that those who have recovered from COVID-19 get vaccinated because experts are unsure about how long natural immunity lasts.

However, the Kentucky senator told Catsimatidis that until he sees evidence suggesting that immunity from the vaccine is better than natural immunity, he’s not going to get vaccinated.

“Until they show me evidence that people who have already had the infection are dying in large numbers or 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,” Paul said.

The comments come as the U.S. seeks to push through a decline in demand following the mad dash for the jab earlier in the year. Data from the CDC shows that 60.8 percent of adults have received at least one vaccine and that 48.8 percent have been fully inoculated.

Several Republican senators, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellWhat the Democrats should be doing to reach true bipartisanship Democrats mull overhaul of sweeping election bill McConnell seeks to divide and conquer Democrats MORE (R-Ky.), have urged Americans to get vaccinated. Paul's Kentucky colleague tweeted about his vaccination directly following his jab earlier in the year. 

However, recent polling has shown that Republicans are more hesitant to get vaccinated than Democrats and independents.

One poll from PBS NewsHour/NPR/ Marist found that 41 percent of Republicans say they do not plan to get vaccinated, compared with 4 percent of Democrats.

Paul has been critical of coronavirus restrictions and mask mandates, often sparring with the nation's top infectious diseases expert, Anthony FauciAnthony FauciThe tale of the last bipartisan unicorns Delta variant's UK dominance sparks concerns in US Overnight Health Care: FDA says millions of J&J doses from troubled plant must be thrown out | WHO warns Africa falling far behind in vaccinations | Top CDC official says US not ready for next pandemic MORE, during Senate panel hearings on the coronavirus response.

He said Sunday that getting vaccinated should be a personal choice and that no one should be forced to get vaccinated.

In a free country, you would think people would honor the idea that each individual would get to make the medical decision, that it wouldn’t be a big brother coming to tell me what I have to do,” Paul said.

“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 cut my calories?” Paul continued. “All that would probably be good for me, but I don’t think big brother ought to tell me to do it.”

John Catsimatidis is an investor in The Hill.