Shirkey says he'll crash Mackinac conference despite vaccine requirement, spouts COVID-19 misinformation on TV

click to enlarge State Sen. Mike Shirkey. -
State Sen. Mike Shirkey.

Michigan state Sen. Mike Shirkey said he plans to attend the annual Mackinac Policy Conference, even though this year's conference requires COVID-19 vaccination — and Shirkey refuses to get vaccinated.

The Republican Senate majority leader made the comments Monday during a softball interview on The Bart Hawley Show on Jackson's JTV.

"They have this crazy restriction that you can only attend if you're fully vaccinated," he said. "Now remember, this is on Mackinac Island, in the Grand Hotel. The Grand Hotel doesn't have that restriction. The Mackinac Island government structure doesn't have that restriction. Frankly, the state of Michigan doesn't have that restriction. ... so I guess in their infinite wisdom, the Detroit Chamber decided that they had to implement it."

Shirkey said he recovered from having COVID-19 in December, and believes he now has "natural immunity" to the virus. He added that he's not against vaccines, but thinks the COVID-19 vaccines should be reserved for only the most at-risk.

"I don't need it," he said. "I have natural immunity."

When asked by Hawley how long he believed that natural immunity would last, Shirkey responded, "Forever."

However, in a FAQ on its website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says:

Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. That’s because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. 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. Studies have shown that vaccination provides a strong boost in protection in people who have recovered from COVID-19. Learn more about why getting vaccinated is a safer way to build protection than getting infected.

"I haven't seen anything how the immunity lasts forever," Hawley gently prodded in response.

"We don't know how long it's going to last," Shirkey admitted. "That was my phrase."

Shirkey also said he was in negotiations with the conference organizers to get them to allow people who have recovered from the virus to attend, but when the organizers came back and requested an antibodies test, he balked.

"I said, come on, give me a break," he told Hawley, although later in the interview he claimed he was recently tested for antibodies.

Previously, Shirkey said he would skip the conference. But on Monday, he said he will probably try to crash the event.

"I'll be on the island, and I may probably be in the Grand Hotel," he said. "I just won't be able to 'officially' participate in the policy conference."

Shirkey was also asked about a recent op-ed he wrote for Bridge Michigan, in which he argued against mask mandates and talked up his theory of "natural immunity." The editors amended Shirkey's op-ed with a fact-check note linking to studies that found vaccinations confer more immunity than a previous infection, and another estimated that the COVID-19 vaccines have saved more than 279,000 American lives.

("I'm grateful that they printed that," Shirkey admitted of his op-ed. "I didn't think they'd print it.")

You can watch the full interview on JTV.

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