Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton say they’re willing to get a coronavirus vaccine when it’s available in a public setting to encourage Americans to do the same.
The three former White House occupants hope by setting an example, they might dispel any skepticism as pharmaceutical companies rush to get a vaccine approved by regulators before the end of the year.
“I promise you that when it’s been made for people who are less at risk, I will be taking it. I may end up taking it on TV or having it filmed, just so that people know that I trust this science,” Obama said in an interview on SiriusXM’s “The Joe Madison Show” set to air Thursday. Audio was posted to YouTube ahead of the show.
Representatives for Bush and Clinton stepped up as well.
Bush’s chief of staff, Freddy Ford, told CNN the 43rd President had reached out to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, to see if he could help.
“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 news outlet.
“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 announced on Wednesday he too would be willing to get a shot in a public setting to promote it, CNN reported.
“President Clinton will definitely take a vaccine as soon as available to him, based on the priorities determined by public health officials. And he will do it in a public setting if it will help urge all Americans to do the same,” Angel Urena told the news outlet.
The quick development of vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna has drawn some skepticism from people concerned about the risks of the shots as well as their effectiveness, NPR noted. Both companies say their vaccines are about 95% effective.
That hesitancy is especially evident in the Black community, Obama said during his SiriusXM interview — and some surveys have documented that concern among African Americans more than other racial and ethnic groups.
“I understand, you know, historically — everything dating back all the way to the Tuskegee experiments and so forth — why the African American community would have some skepticism,” Obama said in his Sirius XM interview.
“But 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.”
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