Surgeon general rips Matthew McConaughey’s hesitancy on vaccine mandate for kids

(CNN) — U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy stressed Tuesday that parents need to recognize that “Covid is not harmless in our children” after actor Matthew McConaughey said his kids aren’t vaccinated and that he’s against mandating vaccines for children — as of “right now.”

“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% effective in protecting our kids from symptomatic infection, and they are remarkably safe as well.”

Murthy’s message comes after McConaughey, a potential Texas gubernatorial candidate, said at The New York Times’ DealBook summit earlier Tuesday, “I couldn’t mandate having to vaccinate the younger kids. I still want to find out more information.” The “Dallas Buyers Club” actor added that, as of “right now,” he’s not vaccinating his own children.

<p>Actor Matthew McConaughey is shown here at Carnegie Hall in New York City on Feb. 29, 2020.</p>

Noam Galai/Getty Images

Actor Matthew McConaughey is shown here at Carnegie Hall in New York City on Feb. 29, 2020.

The comments from McConaughey, who said he has been vaccinated himself, come as the Biden administration makes a push to boost the number of Covid-19 vaccination sites for children. The effort follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky’s decision to endorse a recommendation to vaccinate children ages 5-11 with Pfizer’s two-dose course.

“When we began the vaccination effort for adults, actually a few months before we had the vaccine available, if you looked at polls they showed about a third or so of adults were ready to go out and get the vaccine right away. What changed, though, is then the FDA and CDC weighed in. People saw their friends and family get vaccinated,” Murthy said Tuesday evening.

“People also recognized they were getting protected, and they got the chance to talk to their doctors about the vaccine. All of that is going to start happening now with vaccines for children, as well.”

Beyond his platform as an actor, McConaughey’s comments are sure to draw attention given his interest in a gubernatorial run in Texas. “I’m measuring it,” he said of running for office on a podcast in September. “Look, it’s going to be in some capacity. … I just — I’m more of a folksy and philosopher poet statesman than I am a, per se, definitive politician.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott last month issued an executive order banning all state entities, including private employers, from enforcing vaccine mandates.