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Sen. Rand Paul said he won’t get the COVID-19 vaccine because he has already had the coronavirus and believes he now has “natural immunity.”

Paul (R-Ky.), one of the first senators to test positive for the virus last March, told John Catsimatidis on his WABC 770 AM radio show that it’s a personal decision to opt-out of the vaccine.

An ophthalmologist, Paul said unless he sees evidence proving that the vaccine is more effective than having survived the virus, he won’t be getting the shot.

“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 in the interview that aired Sunday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has encouraged people who have had COVID to get vaccinated because “experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering.”

“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 CDC said on its website.

Paul, who has tussled with Dr. Anthony Fauci at a number of Senate hearings over mask-wearing whether the virus originated in a Chinese lab, said getting vaccinated should be a 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,” 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 added. “All that would probably be good for me, but I don’t think big brother ought to tell me to do it.”

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
Sen. Rand Paul repeatedly butted heads with Dr. Anthony Fauci over mask mandates during the pandemic.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

According to the CDC, 38.9 percent of all Americans are fully vaccinated, and 48.9 percent have received at least one dose.