Trump urges supporters to get coronavirus vaccine

Former President Trump on Tuesday urged his supporters to get vaccinated against the coronavirus as concern grows over polls showing GOP vaccine hesitancy.

Making a rare media appearance on Fox News, Trump said he would “recommend” the shots that are currently being distributed but added a caveat about respecting individual freedoms.

“I would recommend it, and I would recommend it to a lot of people who don’t want to get it and a lot of people who voted for me, frankly, and we have our freedoms, and we have to live by that, and I agree with that also,” he told Fox News’s Maria Bartiromo, adding that “it’s a great vaccine, and it’s a safe vaccine.”

The comments mark the former president’s most adamant call so far for his followers to get a coronavirus shot. Vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have been authorized in the U.S., with more than 110 million doses administered so far.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses to reach full effectiveness, while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires just one shot.

Democrats and Republicans alike have been clamoring for Trump to publicly urge his supporters to get a shot amid surveys showing many Republicans are hesitant to getting vaccinated.

A PBS Newshour/NPR/Marist poll released last week found that 41 percent of Republicans said they would not get the shot, and a CBS News poll released late last month found that 34 percent of Republicans said they would not be vaccinated for COVID-19.

“If former President Trump woke up tomorrow and wanted to be more vocal about the safety and efficacy of the campaign, of the vaccine, certainly we’d support that,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing with reporters Monday.

Trump received his vaccine in January before leaving office, though news of his inoculation did not come out until earlier this month, and he has mostly remained mum on the vaccine post-presidency. When he has discussed the shots, he has mostly claimed credit for the work that was put into creating them during his administration rather than urging supporters to get vaccinated.

“What the Trump administration has done with vaccines has, in many respects, perhaps saved large portions of the world, not only our country but large portions of the world,” he said at last month’s Conservative Political Action Conference.

While the Trump administration touted the success of its Operation Warp Speed in creating viable vaccines in a number of months, breaking records for the speed at which an inoculation was formed, the former president spent much of his last year in office dismissing the threat the virus posed to the public.

Trump in 2020 said the virus would “disappear” and in an interview with journalist Bob Woodward said he intentionally sought to downplay the virus.

“I wanted to, I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic,” Trump said in a recording released by Woodward.

Tags COVID-19 vaccine Donald Trump Jen Psaki Maria Bartiromo operation warp speed

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