Trump promotes coronavirus vaccines and booster shots, still opposes Biden’s vaccine-or-testing mandates

Trump at an Aug. 21 rally in Cullman, Ala., where he was booed after encouraging vaccination for the coronavirus. (Photo by ChipSomodevilla, Getty Images, via The Wall Street Journal)

Kentucky Health News
Former President Trump is promoting coronavirus vaccines, saying he has received a booster shot, but still opposes vaccine-or-test mandates like those President Biden is still trying to get through the courts.

In two interviews this week, Trump endorsed the vaccines and their booster shots, which experts say are key to thwarting widespread illness and death from the highly contagious Omicron variant of the virus.

“Some in and around Trump’s orbit have long pleaded with him to get behind vaccination pushes, if for no other reason than to remind Americans of the scientific achievements that advanced during his presidency,” including rapid development of the vaccines, Rick Klein writes for ABC News.

Trump revealed Sunday, Dec. 19, that he had received a booster shot. At the Dallas stop of a speaking tour with Bill O’Reilly, the former talk-show host said they both “are vaxxed” and asked Trump, “Did you get the booster?”

“Yes,” Trump said. O’Reilly replied,  “I got it too,” Mr. O’Reilly said. Many boos were heard, and Trump waved his arms, saying, “Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t,” and pointing to what he called “a very tiny group over there.”

Shortly before that exchange, Trump said his supporters should get vaccinated “because, he suggested, unwillingness to do so represented a victory for liberals,” The New York Times reports. He said, “You’re playing right into their hands.”

In a later interview with conservative commentator Candace Owens on the Daily Wire, Trump said the vaccine development “was one of the greatest achievements; we did it in less than nine months. . . . Some people aren’t taking it; the ones that get very sick and go to the hospital are the ones that don’t take the vaccine, but it’s still their choice. And if you take the vaccine, you’re protected.”

“This is good news that Donald Trump is delivering this message to his followers,” USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page said Friday night on PBS‘s “Washington Week.” Polls have shown lower vaccination rates in states and counties Trump carried; he beat Biden by 29 percentage points in Kentucky.

Trump spoke about vaccines after Owens cast doubt on them by saying that fewer people died of Covid-19 last year than this year, when they became available. By far, most Covid-19 deaths have been among the unvaccinated, and ABC notes that the vaccines were not “widely available until early spring 2021, after Biden had already assumed the presidency. . . . Other factors such as the end of masking and social distancing mandates in many local jurisdictions, as well as new variants of the virus, have contributed to Covid-19 deaths in 2021.”

ABC adds, “Both Trump and Owens expressed their continued opposition to vaccine and mask mandates, and Trump also claimed that prior infection from Covid-19 protects in a similar way to the vaccine. That claim is disputed by medical experts who say that the protection from the vaccine and a booster shot is stronger than protection from prior infection.”

Trump “has previously encouraged his supporters to get vaccinated,” notes The Wall Street JournalHe was briefly booed at a rally in Alabama in August after urging attendees to get a Covid-19 shot. “You got to do what you have to do, but I recommend: Take the vaccines,” he said. “I did it. It’s good.” In September, he told the Journal that he probably wouldn’t get a booster shot. But that was before the Omicron variant appeared.  

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