CBS 58 Exclusive: Sen. Johnson doesn’t plan to get vaccination since he 'had COVID' despite CDC guidance

CBS 58 Exclusive: Sen. Johnson doesn’t plan to get vaccination since he ’had COVID’ despite CDC guidance

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- U.S. Senator Ron Johnson said he doesn’t have plans to get vaccinated because he “had COVID,” despite CDC guidance that recommends those who’ve recovered from the virus to still get vaccinated.

The Republican senator, who tested positive for coronavirus in October, tells CBS 58 he won’t get the vaccine since he believes he still has “immunity.”

“No, I had COVID,” Johnson said. “I think that probably provides me with the best immunity possible (for) actually having the disease.”

The CDC encourages those who’ve recovered from COVID-19 to still get vaccinated because “experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19.”

CDC guidance also says, “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.”

Members of Congress were offered the vaccine in December, but not all lawmakers agreed to get one. Johnson, who’s 65 years old, could also get vaccinated in Wisconsin, but he didn’t commit to getting a dose. 

“I could have got a vaccine, you know, right out of the blocks. I decided not to do that so that other people can get the vaccine,” said Johnson. 

Other prominent Republicans, former President Donald Trump, who fell ill to the virus and even hospitalized after being diagnosed, received the vaccine before he left office, a Trump advisor said. 

Johnson, who often criticizes precautions to slow the spread of the virus, signaled support for vaccination efforts so far, but stopped short of encouraging people to get one. 

“It certainly appears the pandemic on its own is winding down and the vaccine is certainly helping this come to a close, and I think most Americans and Wisconsinites can’t wait for the pandemic to be over,” he said. 

Wisconsin also ranks among the top in the nation and first in the upper Midwest for the number of vaccines administered per 100,000 people, but health officials have warned residents to not let their guard down.

"There may be some opportunities to increase contact with vaccinated individuals, but we need to be careful, because if we don’t, we run the risk of broader community spread and that’s going to delay the ultimate goal, doing all the things we want to be doing," said Dr. Matt Anderson, UW Health senior medical director of primary care.

National Guard Presence at U.S. Capitol, Security Concerns

This week the Pentagon approved a request to keep National Guard troops at the U.S. Capitol amid growing concerns about potential threats. 

About 2,300 troops will remain until May 23, the Department of Defense announced. 

Sen. Johnson said the decision is an “overreaction” calling D.C. a ghost town.

“COVID struck and D.C. is pretty much a ghost town, there’s not a whole lot of activity here, I don’t see where the threat is,” said Johnson. “We can either respond appropriately, taking necessary precautions, or we can overreact, and right now I think we're overreacting.”

Last week the House of Representatives canceled session on March 4 following a warning from Capitol Police about a possible security threat from an identified militia group. The Republican senator said the decision was “unnecessary.” 

“We've been dealing with (threats) since 9/11, for literally decades, and we've dealt with it without fencing, without the National Guard,” Johnson said. “Obviously what happened on January 6, causes people to rethink things, but again, to have a double layer of fencing and troops, I think that’s overkill.”

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