Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Monday expressed his dismay over the “disturbing” trend of declining vaccination rates in his home state.
Asked about falling vaccination rates in Kentucky, which remains more than 700,000 doses away from Gov. Andy Beshear’s (D) goal of 2.5 million vaccinated residents, McConnell replied that he finds decreasing rates of vaccinations in the state “disturbing.”
“We’re in the red zone here,” McConnell said. “That’s the last 20 yards here before you score, but we’re not in the end zone yet.”
The Senate minority leader, speaking during an event at the University of Louisville, stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, and encouraged more people to get vaccinated now that all adults are eligible to receive it.
“I think it is disturbing to see that vaccinations seem to be receding as everyone kind of think it’s over,” McConnell said.
“For whatever audience I have, I want to encourage everybody to finish the job,” McConnell said. “Everyone is now eligible for the vaccine and we need to get it and try to encourage people to do it in every conceivable way.”
Pressed on whether he has any suggestions for the federal government to address vaccine hesitancy, McConnell reiterated that he can’t comprehend why people are holding off on getting inoculated when there are enough supplies for the public.
“Well I don’t know what else we can do other than make it available,” McConnell said. “Apparently we have plenty of supplies and I’m perplexed as to why we can’t finish the job and I think we just keep talking about it and hope and make it as available as possible.”
McConnell has been outspoken about his concerns surrounding COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, especially among supporters of former President Trump.
In response to polls showing significant vaccine hesitancy among Republicans, especially men, McConnell last month urged the group to put aside its reservations so that the public can move on from the pandemic.
“I’m a Republican man and I want to say to everyone, we need to take this vaccine,” McConnell said last month during a press conference in Lexington, Kentucky. “These reservations need to be put aside because the only way, I think, we get to finally put this pandemic in the rearview mirror is with herd immunity.”
New York Times noted Monday that recent polls show about 30 percent of the U.S. population hesitant to receive the vaccine.
Although vaccination rates hit record numbers in the first months since President Biden entered office, the Biden administration made clear that it will not impose a federal mandate for vaccinations nor will the federal government play a role in providing documents showing proof of inoculations, a topic that the right has seized on, decrying so-called “vaccine passports.”
The White House launched an ad campaign last month in an effort to combat vaccine hesitancy.
The President also announced last month that his goal of 200 million COVID-19 vaccinations in his first 100 days in office has been met, doubling his initial goal of 100 million vaccinations.
Watch McConnell’s remarks below: