Former Presidents Obama, George W. Bush and Clinton are offering to publicly take the COVID-19 vaccine to prove its safety and encourage Americans to be inoculated.
"President Clinton will definitely take a vaccine as soon as available to him, based on the priorities determined by public health officials. And he will do it in a public setting if it will help urge all Americans to do the same," the 42nd president’s press secretary, Angel Urena, told CNN.
"A few weeks ago President Bush asked me to let Dr. [Anthony] Fauci and Dr. [Deborah] Birx know that, when the time is right, he wants to do what he can to help encourage his fellow citizens to get vaccinated," Freddy Ford, chief of staff to Bush, told the network. "First, the vaccines need to be deemed safe and administered to the priority populations. Then, President Bush will get in line for his, and will gladly do so on camera."
Obama, meanwhile, told SiriusXM host Joe Madison this week that he trusted the safety and efficacy of any vaccine that received Fauci’s seal of approval.
“People like Anthony FauciAnthony Fauci'Highest priority' is to vaccinate the unvaccinated, Fauci says Sunday shows - Boosters in the spotlight Fauci: Data for Moderna, Johnson & Johnson booster shots 'a few weeks' out MORE, who I know, and I’ve worked with, I trust completely,” Obama said. “So if Anthony Fauci tells me this vaccine is safe, and can vaccinate, you know, immunize you from getting COVID, absolutely I’m going to take it.”
Obama added that he would be willing to take the vaccine on live television. The former president added that it was necessary to destigmatize vaccinations among parts of the Black community, in particular.
“I understand, historically, everything dating back all the way to the Tuskegee experiments and so forth, why the African-American community would have some skepticism,” he said, referencing a notorious study in which syphilis cases in Black men were deliberately left untreated and concealed from them.
“But the fact of the matter is, is that vaccines are why we don’t have polio anymore. And they’re the reason why we don’t have a whole bunch of kids dying from measles, and smallpox and diseases that used to decimate entire populations and communities,” he added.
The first vaccines for the virus are expected to receive emergency use authorization in the U.S. this month. Officials have said the first doses will go to front-line health care workers and at-risk populations.