At least three former presidents would willingly take the COVID-19 vaccine publicly to promote its safety and effectiveness, and hopefully encourage more Americans to trust the shot, CNN reported late Wednesday.
The volunteer effort by Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton — the nation’s three most recent presidents — comes as at least two vaccines pending authorization by the Federal Drug Administration are poised for distribution as early as this month.
The promotion by the former leaders could help boost the vaccine as public health officials continue to reel from the damaging effects of President Donald Trump’s efforts to undermine the expertise of government scientists and health experts in the wake of the 2020 presidential election.
“A few weeks ago President Bush asked me to let Dr. Fauci and Dr. 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, Bush’s chief of staff, told CNN. He said that the former president “will get in line for his, and will gladly do so on camera” after it is administered to priority populations.
Clinton’s press secretary, Angel Urena, similarly said that Clinton would be willing to support promotion of a vaccine by taking it publicly “as soon as available to him,” based on the priorities designated by public health officials.
During an interview with SiriusXM’s Joe Madison scheduled to air Thursday, Obama also said he would “absolutely” take a vaccine to immunize against COVID-19 if Fauci gives it his stamp of approval.
“I may end up taking it on TV or having it filmed, just so that people know that I trust this science, and what I don’t trust is getting Covid,” the former president added, saying he would get the vaccine when its access is widened to those less at risk of complications from coronavirus.
“The fact of the matter is, is that vaccines are why we don’t have polio anymore, 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,” Obama said.
The comments come as Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned on Wednesday that the nation is heading into a challenging winter, predicting that total deaths from Covid-19 could reach “close to 450,000” by February unless a much larger percentage of Americans take more precautions to combat the spread of coronavirus. The virus exceeded single-day records in deaths and hospitalizations on Wednesday.