Matthew McConaughey on masks, mandates and why he doesn't want to vaccinate his kids

Matthew McConaughey has revealed he doesn't intend to have his children vaccinated against COVID-19 and would oppose any mandate that would require young kids to get the shots. 

Speaking at the DealBook Online Summit, the Hollywood star said he thought masks should have been a "quick and easy mandate", but showed more hesitancy when it came to the vaccine. 

"It's a mask, it's not the vaccine. No harm proven, and we only can prove that it can be healthy," the Interstellar star said.

"It's a small inconvenience for possible long-term freedom everybody, let's pay the tithe, put one on. We're trying to figure this out as we go, the science is changing as we go." 

McConaughey said that he and his wife had both been vaccinated but appeared visibly distressed at the thought of vaccinating children, taking off his sunglasses, rubbing his head and letting out a groan.  

"They just said we can vaccinate kids... do I want to trust in the science? Do I think that there’s any kind of scam or conspiracy theory? Hell no I don't.

"I don't think there's any kind of conspiracy theory on the vaccines, these are scientists trying to do the right thing," he said, but added that he still wouldn't be rushing to get the vaccine for his two younger children, aged eight and 11. 

"It's scary - right now, I'm not vaccinating mine, I'll tell you that." 

McConaughey's comments come after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed a lower-dose version of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, the first shot to be made available for those younger than 12.

The actor explained that the family lived with "a high-risk person" - his 90 year old mother, who was immunocompromised. When asked by New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin, "so why don't you want your kids to be vaccinated?" the Dallas Buyers Club star took another long, tense pause. 

"We go slow on vaccinations, anyway, even before COVID," he replied eventually. "Now mind you, we've quarantined harder than any of our friends have, and still are, two years later.

"Main thing I'm trying to do is keep [COVID] from my mom, okay? So we've been doing a heavy amount of testing, everywhere we can with anybody we come in contact with," he continued. 

"I'm in a position though, where I can do that, and I understand that not everyone can do that." 

The Oscar winner, who is considering a run for Texas Governor, said he couldn't support the idea of mandates for children "just yet". 

"I couldn't mandate having to vaccinate the younger kids. I still want to find out more information, so I couldn't mandate it for kids just yet, no." 

The United States Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy later responded to McConaughey's remarks, telling CNN that clinical trials found the shot to be "remarkably safe" and more than 90 percent effective in children 5 to 11 years old.

"Covid is not harmless in our children. Many kids have died, sadly. Hundreds of children, thousands, have been hospitalised," Murthy said. 

Asking the public to avoid "the noise" about the subject, Murthy encouraged parents to speak to their doctor. 

"Consult credible health sources. And recognise that this is our opportunity to protect our kids and to get them back to so many things that they have missed out on."