Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday recommended the COVID-19 vaccine to his supporters, amid concerning recent polls showing Republicans are less likely to get vaccinated.
In a phone interview with Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo, Trump said: “I would recommend [the vaccine]. And 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.”
“And we have our freedoms and we have to live by that, and I agree with that also,” Trump added. “It’s a great vaccine and it’s a safe vaccine.”
In the interview, Trump also repeated lies that he lost the election fraudulently, and blamed the U.S. Supreme Court for not overturning the election results.
While Trump had told people to “get your shot” in a speech at CPAC last month, he did not participate in a public-service campaign that features all of the other living former presidents, and had noticeably been quiet about vaccinations. Trump and his wife, Melania, were vaccinated at the White House in January, though that was not disclosed at the time.
Recent polls have found Republicans, especially Trump supporters, are more skeptical of the coronavirus vaccines, leading to calls for Trump to endorse vaccinations.
“I just don’t get it,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday in a series of TV interviews, saying having Trump’s support would be a “game-changer.”
“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,” Fauci said on “Fox News Sunday.”
On Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said: “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,” though later in the day President Joe Biden said local doctors and clergy were more important voices than Trump in convincing people.
As of late Tuesday, about 21% of the U.S. has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with current averages of about 2.5 million shots administered a day, according to an NPR vaccination tracker. However, polls have found about a quarter of the population are not willing to be vaccinated.