Former President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he recommended Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19. The push comes after the former president largely politicized efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus and refused to publicly commit to receiving the vaccine himself while in office.
“I would recommend it,” Trump said during a Fox News interview. “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. But again, we have our freedoms and we have to live by that and I agree with that also. But it is a great vaccine. It is a safe vaccine and it is something that works.”
Trump’s fresh effort to tout vaccination against COVID-19, comes after he was notably absent from a vaccine ad campaign earlier this month featuring former presidents to boost confidence around inoculation.
A Trump aide told the New York Times that the former president, who has repeatedly sidelined efforts at curbing the spread of coronavirus, had not been approached in a “formal” way to be involved in the vaccine push.
A spokesperson to the Ad Council told Politico that shooting for the advertisement featuring former presidents had launched in December while Trump was still in office.
At that time, Trump was issuing calls to delay White House staffers from receiving the vaccine while saying he had not been scheduled to receive the shot, effectively downplaying its importance and bragging about his own protective antibodies after recovering from his own infection with the virus in October.
“People working in the White House should receive the vaccine somewhat later in the program, unless specifically necessary. I have asked that this adjustment be made,” Trump tweeted at the time. “I am not scheduled to take the vaccine, but look forward to doing so at the appropriate time.”
Since then, Trump has been eager to lay claim on the coronavirus vaccine.
Last week, he issued a statement through his “Save America” political action crediting himself for the shot and invoking the racist term he popularized for the virus.
“I hope everyone remembers when they’re getting the COVID-19 (often referred to as the China Virus) Vaccine, that if I wasn’t President, you wouldn’t be getting that beautiful ‘shot’ for 5 years, at best, and probably wouldn’t be getting it at all. I hope everyone remembers!” he said.
Trump had also applauded his administration’s vaccine effort while urging Americans to get the vaccine during an address at the Conservative Political Action Conference last month.
“We took care of a lot of people — including, I guess, on December 21st, we took care of Joe Biden, because he got his shot, he got his vaccine,” Trump said at CPAC.
But the Trump administration’s botched rollout of the vaccine led to delays and shortfalls in their promised allocations of doses to states — and even as Trump suggested while in office that he would not prioritize getting vaccinated, he and former first lady Melania Trump quietly received the vaccine before leaving the White House in January.