Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday urged his supporters to get vaccinated against COVID-19, heeding the call of public health experts who have called on him to persuade his base to seek vaccination due to high rates of skepticism among his supporters.
During a phone interview with Fox News, Trump was asked about receiving the vaccine in January and whether he would recommend his supporters get the shot as well.
“I would. I would recommend it,” Trump said, adding that “it’s a great vaccine. It’s a safe vaccine and it’s something that works.”
“It works incredibly well,” he said. “95%, maybe even more than that. It works incredibly well, and it’s really saving our country and it’s saving, frankly, the world.”
Trump also addressed reports of skepticism among Republicans and people who voted for him in 2020.
“I would recommend it to a lot of people that don’t want to get it, and a lot of those people voted for me, frankly,” Trump said. “Again, we have our freedoms, and we have to live by that and I agree with that also.”
Tuesday’s comments were Trump’s strongest endorsement of the vaccine in several weeks and comes after he chose to receive his doses of the vaccine in private.
Trump’s Vice President, Mike Pence, as well as President Joe Biden, current Vice President Kamala Harris, and former Presidents Barack Obama, George Bush and Bill Clinton all publicly received doses of the vaccine.
A recent poll taken by NPR showed that 49% of Republican men and 47% of people who supported Trump in the 2020 election did not plan to get vaccinated when it was made available to them. The poll has prompted public health experts to urge Trump to recommend the vaccine to his supporters.
“(Trump) is a very widely popular person among Republicans,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s top medical adviser, told Fox News on Sunday. "If he came out and said 'Go and get vaccinated, it's really important for your health, the health of your family, and the health of the country, it seems absolutely inevitable that the vast majority of people who are his close followers would listen to him.”
Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response team coordinator under Trump, also urged Trump to recommend the vaccine to his supporters in an interview with ABC News on Monday.
“I hope President Trump lends his voice to that. I think it is important. But to every Trump supporter out there: Protect yourself, protect your family. Get vaccinated," she said.