Matthew McConaughey is backtracking clarifying his stance on COVID-19 vaccine mandates for kids.
On Wednesday, the 52-year-old actor shared a message on his Instagram Story to clear up a misunderstanding after he said earlier this week that he wants “to find out more information” before supporting any requirements that young children get the shot.
“When asked my opinion on the subject of children and vaccination mandates I stated, ‘I couldn’t mandate it for kids just yet.’ What was not clear is that I was referring specifically to the 5-11 year old mandate,” he explained.
McConaughey continued, “What is NOT true, and insinuated with the clickbait headlines since, is that I am against vaccinating children at all. This is false. In fact, our eldest 13-year-old son Levi is fully vaccinated for COVID-19.”
He concluded by saying “I appreciate the ear and clarity,” telling his followers to “just keep livin’.”
Last Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control formally authorized Pfizer’s vaccine for use in children ages 5 to 11 and inoculations began across the country the next day.
On Tuesday, McConaughey — who is fully vaccinated — said during The New York Times’s DealBook summit that he isn’t anti-vaccine but was not fully in support of a vaccine mandate for young children yet.
“Do I think that there’s any kind of scam or conspiracy theory? Hell no I don’t. We all got to get off that narrative. There’s not a conspiracy theory on the vaccines,” the Greenlights author continued.
McConaughey and his wife Camila share sons Levi, 13, and Livingston, 8, and daughter Vida, 11. On Tuesday, he explained that the couple had chosen to “go slow” with vaccinating their children “even before COVID.”
“I couldn’t mandate having to vaccinate the younger kids. I still want to find out more information,” he said. “There’s gonna come a time, though — and there has already in these last two years, obviously — there’ll come a time where you’re gonna have to roll the dice one way or the other and go, where are the numbers in my favor? I’m vaccinated. Wife’s vaccinated. … We’re over here just trying to live as healthy a lifestyle as possible, but I couldn’t mandate it for kids just yet.”
The Dallas Buyers Club star emphasized that he and his family have taken the pandemic seriously and have relied heavily on at-home testing to keep everyone safe — and stressed that his priority is protecting his elderly mother, who is immunocompromised and has been staying with them throughout the pandemic. He told the NYT that they’ve “quarantined harder than any of our friends have and still are two years later.”
“I’m in a position though where I can do that, and I understand not everyone can do that,” he said.
So far, more than 360,000 kids within ages 5 to 11 have received their first dose of the vaccine.
While there is a large portion of parents who immediately went out to get their kids vaccinated, recent polling has found that around one-third are hesitant, and another third do not intend to vaccinate their kids. Some parents feel that it isn’t necessary for the young age group to get inoculated given they are less likely to develop a severe illness from COVID-19, but experts have warned that they can still have adverse outcomes, or pass the virus on to others.
“While children have, in general, had less severe illness than adults, their lives have definitely been impacted by COVID-19,” says PEOPLE Health Squad pediatrician Dr. Elizabeth Murray, a specialist in Pediatric Emergency Medicine and Child Health Advocacy. “Many thousands of children have been hospitalized and children in this age group have died from COVID-19 during the pandemic. Children also do spread the disease so anything we can do to lessen the illness, the better off we will be.”
Murray adds that “it’s also important to know that MIS-C, the severe post-COVID illness seen in children, is most common in this age group.”
Clinical trials for the vaccine found that there were no adverse side effects in kids aged 5 to 11, and that it was more than 90 percent effective in preventing even mild symptoms of COVID-19.
“I know that this is an incredibly safe vaccine that has saved lives, decreases illness, and once fully vaccinated will allow my kindergartner to have an extra layer of protection to keep her safe in school and when out in the world,” Murray says. “I wouldn’t recommend vaccinating your children if I wasn’t comfortable vaccinating my own.”
Sometimes it’s best to just be quiet. Not every question has to be answered.