Trump blames Democrats, not Republicans, for vaccine hesitancy

Former President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump MORE is blaming Democrats for the hesitancy of some Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19. 

The former president in an interview with Fox News claimed more Americans were interested in getting the COVID-19 vaccine when he was president and accused Democrats of downplaying it. 

"If you remember, when I was president, there were literally lines of people wanting to take it," Trump told Fox News. "Now, you have a different situation, and it’s very bad." 

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Trump also criticized Democratic leaders, including Vice President Harris, for previously saying they wouldn't get vaccinated if Trump himself was pushing it.

“Of course, they famously said, 'If Trump came up with it, I’ll never take it,'" Trump said. "They disparaged the vaccine, and now they wonder why people aren’t wanting to take it? It’s a disgrace." 

Harris in October last year said she would gladly take a COVID-19 vaccine if public health officials were advocating for it, including Anthony FauciAnthony FauciTrump on what would prevent 2024 bid: 'I guess a bad call from a doctor' Overnight Health Care — Presented by Indivior — CDC panel approves boosters for some, but not based on jobs Fauci: 'Worst time' for a government shutdown is in middle of pandemic MORE, the foremost expert in the government on infectious diseases who is now an adviser to President BidenJoe BidenHaiti prime minister warns inequality will cause migration to continue Pelosi: House must pass 3 major pieces of spending legislation this week Erdoğan says Turkey plans to buy another Russian defense system MORE. But she said she would not take a vaccine just because Trump was pushing it. 

"If Dr. FauciAnthony FauciTrump on what would prevent 2024 bid: 'I guess a bad call from a doctor' Overnight Health Care — Presented by Indivior — CDC panel approves boosters for some, but not based on jobs Fauci: 'Worst time' for a government shutdown is in middle of pandemic MORE, the doctors, tell us that we should take it, I'll be the first in line to take it," Harris said at the time. "But if Donald Trump tells us we should take it, I'm not going to take it."

Democrats through much of 2020 worried Trump might push out a vaccine in a rush as part of an effort to help him win reelection. In the end, the first U.S. vaccines were approved months after the November election. 

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People rushed to get the vaccines when they were first available, but the U.S. rollout since the spring has slowed considerably, and in many states vaccination rates remain paltry. Sixty-five percent of adults 18 and up are fully vaccinated. 

Trump has come under criticism for not doing more to push vaccines, despite his criticism of Democrats. He took a vaccine early and has said people should take them, but he did not allow television cameras in to see him get a shot, as leaders such as Biden and Harris did.

Trump was recently booed at an Alabama event when he advocated for vaccines, a moment that reflected the deep reluctance among many of his supporters to getting vaccinated.

Democrats in general have been more willing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 than Republicans, with polls showing vaccine hesitancy is highest among conservatives and GOP voters compared to Democrats.

“From day one of this pandemic, Republicans have rejected reality and embraced political extremism by lying about the effectiveness of vaccines, mask wearing and social distancing," Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in a statement on Monday. "It’s clear Republicans' recklessness fueled the COVID-19 surge and threatens the health and economic progress President Biden and House Democrats delivered with the American Rescue Plan.”

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Vaccine mandates are now becoming a hot political issue, with Biden issuing new executive orders last week that will require federal employees to be vaccinated or tested and all private employers with 100 or more employees to mandate COVID-19 vaccination or weekly testing.

The U.S. is currently going through another wave of COVID-19 infections as the highly contagious delta variant hits the unvaccinated hard. 

But the mandates have been controversial with many GOP governors, who have threatened to sue the administration. 

Fifty-three percent of all Americans are fully vaccinated against the novel virus, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Children under 12 years old are not yet eligible to be vaccinated. 

--Updated at 10:40 a.m.