GOP leaders escalate battle against COVID-19 vaccine mandates
McConnell gets booster, calls it 'easy decision'
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he received the COVID-19 booster shot on Monday, calling his choice to get the third dose "an easy decision"
The 79-year-old senator announced that he got the booster dose while on the Senate floor, hours after President Biden received his third shot.
"I'm glad to share that a few minutes ago, I received a booster vaccination for COVID-19," McConnell said. "All throughout the pandemic, I have followed the best advice from experts and especially from my own health care providers. It was an easy decision to receive a booster."
McConnell's booster vaccine comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week approved a third Pfizer-BioNTech dose for those aged 65 and older and adults with underlying medical conditions six months after their second shot.
In his speech, the Senate minority leader labeled himself a "lifelong champion of vaccinations," citing his survival of polio during his childhood and his advocacy for the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Senate minority leader has been outspoken in promoting COVID-19 vaccines, while other Republicans, including some GOP lawmakers, have refused or been more hesitant to get their initial shots.
"Mountains of evidence tell us these shots are safe, effective and dramatically shrink the odds of severe disease or death from COVID," he said.
"Like I have been saying for months, these safe and effective vaccines are the way to defend ourselves and our families from this terrible virus," McConnell added. "They're also how we stay on offense against COVID as a country. All Americans should speak with their doctors and get vaccinated."
McConnell's remarks followed Biden's third vaccination on camera at the White House. Although boosters are "important" as well as "safe and effective," the president emphasized on Monday that the priority is to get the unvaccinated their shots.
About 23 percent of adults have yet to receive one dose, leaving millions of Americans at risk of contracting the highly transmissible delta variant. In particular, McConnell's home state of Kentucky has seen 60.4 percent of its adults get at least one dose, less than the national average.