Rand Paul was the first senator to contract COVID, and he's skipping the vaccine because of that diagnosis. In an interview with conservative radio host John Catsimatidis on WABC, the Kentucky Republican said he doesn't need the vaccine because he has natural immunity, reports the Hill. “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,” said Paul, an ophthalmologist. As NBC News notes, Paul's decision runs counter to the CDC's guidelines. The agency recommends that those who have recovered still get vaccinated because it's unclear how long natural immunity lasts.
In a Q&A on the CDC website, for example, the answer is "yes" on the question of whether those who have had COVID should get their shots. "Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible—although rare—that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again," the answer reads. Paul, who has frequently clashed with Dr. Anthony Fauci over COVID advice, says it's a matter of personal choice. "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," he said. Both the Hill and NBC note that Paul's decision syncs politically—far more Republicans than Democrats are forgoing vaccinations. (Paul also ditched his mask earlier than recommended.)