Story at a glance
- Former President Trump was booed after urging his supporters to get vaccinated.
- “I believe totally in your freedoms,” Trump said. “I do, you’re free, you got to do what you have to do.”
- “But I recommend taking the vaccines,” Trump added.
Former President Trump was reportedly booed after recommending attendees at an Alabama rally get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“I believe totally in your freedoms,” Trump said, according to CNN. “I do, you’re free, you got to do what you have to do. But I recommend taking the vaccines. I did it, it’s good, take the vaccines.”
The 45th president appeared to take the jeers in stride, reiterating that he believed the rallygoers had a fundamental right to make their own decision.
“That’s OK. That’s all right. That’s good, you got your freedoms,” Trump said. “But I happen to take the vaccine. If it doesn’t work, you’ll be the first to know. OK.”
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Alabama has vaccinated roughly 36 percent of its residents, falling behind the national total by nearly 16 percentage points. The state reported more than 28,000 new cases in the past week, and the state’s health department said in a press release Friday that 50 children were hospitalized with the virus.
Trump has been criticized for not making a more targeted appeal to his supporters, as several states who cast their electoral votes for the former president lag in vaccination rates — including in a highly visible opinion editorial from Trump’s former head of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar.
Azar argued in a piece published in The New York Times that the vaccine outlook could have been markedly different had Trump chosen to take the shot publicly.
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“I’m glad former President Trump got vaccinated, but it would have been even better for him to have done so on national television so that his supporters could see how much trust and confidence he has in what is arguably one of his greatest accomplishments,” Azar wrote.
Azar, who oversaw Operation Warp Speed, challenged conservatives to tout vaccines as one of the former president’s defining achievements and called “upon all party leaders and conservatives to double down on encouraging vaccination.”
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