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Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton said they are willing to receive a coronavirus vaccine in order to prove to the public that it’s safe and effective — and perhaps even get the injections on camera.
What are the details?
Bush’s chief of staff Freddy Ford told CNN that Bush reached out to Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx — the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the White House coronavirus response coordinator, respectively — to see how he could help promote the vaccine.
“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,” Ford told the cable network. “First, the vaccines need to be deemed safe and administered to the priority populations. Then, President Bush will get in line for his, and will gladly do so on camera.”
Clinton’s press secretary told CNN Wednesday that he also is willing to take the vaccine in public.
“President Clinton will definitely take a vaccine as soon as available to him, based on the priorities determined by public health officials,” Angel Ureña said. “And he will do it in a public setting if it will help urge all Americans to do the same.”
Obama said in an interview with SiriusXM that if he would take a vaccine if Fauci determined it was safe and effective.
“People like Anthony Fauci — who I know and I’ve worked with — I trust completely,” Obama said. “So, if Anthony Fauci tells me this vaccine is safe, and can … immunize you from getting COVID, absolutely I’m gonna to take it.”
Speaking of Fauci, he also said he’s willing to get vaccinated on camera. Speaking Thursday on Major Garrett’s CBS podcast “The Takeout,” Fauci said he planned to be inoculated on camera in order to lessen public anxieties about the vaccine’s safety, Forbes noted.
USA Today reported that reluctance to get vaccinated is especially high within communities of color, with Black Americans expressing the most doubts in polls regarding taking vaccines. And Obama said he’s aware of that.
“And I understand … historically — everything dating back all the way to the Tuskegee experiments and so forth — why the African American community would have some skepticism,” he said. “But the fact of the matter is … 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 added that he also may take the injection on camera.
“I promise you that when it’s been made for people who are less at risk, I will be taking it,” he said. “And 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.”
More from USA Today:
A November Gallup poll found 58% of Americans are willing to receive a coronavirus vaccine, an increase from early in the year when hesitancy about vaccines was widespread.
Public health experts say at least 60% to 70% of the population needs to take a vaccine to achieve “herd immunity,” a public health term for when a critical mass of the public is inoculated against a given infectious disease.
“Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, said today that they are in full support of COVID-19 vaccine efforts and encourage everyone who is eligible to get immunized as soon as it becomes available in their communities,” the Carter Center said in a Thursday statement.
CNN said the Carter Center media team has not responded to its question regarding whether the former president would get vaccinated publicly.