Actor Matthew McConaughey is facing backlash from the US surgeon general following comments he made on Thursday expressing hesitation on vaccine mandates for the youngest group of children, 5 to 11-years-old.
"I couldn't mandate having to vaccinate the younger kids. I still want to find out more information," McConaughey said at The New York Times DealBook Online Summit Tuesday.
McConaughey himself is vaccinated, as well as his wife, mother and older child, but according to The New York Times, his two youngest children are not, with their age group only recently having been approved to receive the shot.
"We go slow on vaccinations, even before Covid," he added.
McConaughey noted that he trusted that scientists were trying "to do the right thing," but added that some narratives around the vaccine were problematic.
"Do I think that there's any kind of scam or conspiracy theory? No I don't," said McConaughey, adding that the reaction to mask mandates were exaggerated and polarized. "Early on, this whole thing got politicized," he said. "I thought that should've been a quick, easy mandate. It's a mask, it's not the vaccine."
McConaughey said that masks are "a small inconvenience for possible long-term freedom."
Following his comment about children's vaccine mandates, McConaughey clarified that he was referring to children ages five to 11, not children 12 and older. He added that he plans on thoroughly considering information about immunizing children as it becomes available.
US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy responded to McConaughey's comments, telling CNN that parents need to recognize that "Covid is not harmless in our children."
"Many kids have died. Sadly, hundreds of children—thousands—have been hospitalized, and as a dad of a child who has been hospitalized several years ago for another illness, I would never wish upon any parent they have a child that ends up in the hospital," Murthy told CNN's Erin Burnett on OutFront.
"And the vaccines have shown in these trials for children 5 through 11 they are more at 90 percent effective in protecting our kids from symptomatic infection, and they are remarkably safe as well," he continued.
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