During an appearance on Fox News on Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious diseases, said it would be “very helpful” if former President Donald Trump urged his supporters to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Fauci was asked about a recent NPR poll that found that 49% of Republican men and 47% of people who supported Trump in the 2020 election did not plan to get vaccinated when it was made available to them.
When asked if he felt it would help if Trump were to urge his supporters to take the vaccine, Fauci said he thought “it would make all the difference in the world.”
Fauci on Fox News Sunday says he thinks it'd be "very helpful" if Trump encouraged his followers to get vaccinated, then adds, "I'm very surprised at the high percentage of Republicans who say they don't want to get vaccinated. I don't understand where that's coming from." pic.twitter.com/6vNyMNJ03d— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 14, 2021
“(Trump) is a very widely popular person among Republicans,” Fauci said. "If he came out and said 'Go and get vaccinated, it's really important for your health, the health of your family, and the health of the country, it seems absolutely inevitable that the vast majority of people who are his close followers would listen to him.”
When asked directly by reporters if Trump should be doing more to urge his supporters to get vaccinated, President Joe Biden urged local leaders, doctors and religious leaders to urge for vaccinations in their areas, saying it was the thing his team says "has more impact than anything Trump would say to the MAGA folks."
The Trump administration directed billions in federal funding toward vaccine development and constructed the vital vaccine delivery infrastructure used to get shots into arms. He also publicly urged his supporters to get vaccinated during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Convention last month.
But Trump has done less than his predecessors and political rivals to directly encourage supporters to get vaccinated. He and his wife, Melania, were reportedly vaccinated privately at the White House in January — something he has not directly addressed publicly.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris received shots on live television, as did Trump’s three predecessors — Presidents Barack Obama, George Bush and Bill Clinton. Trump’s own running mate, Mike Pence, was also vaccinated against the virus in an on-camera event.
Trump also chose to largely ignore COVID-19 in the later months of 2020, often actively went against the advice of his health experts and did little to sway his supporters to follow public health guidelines, often encouraging them to live their lives as normal.
Trump himself has a history of spreading vaccine misinformation — even before the pandemic. He courted the anti-vaccine vote during the 2016 election and met with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. — a noted vaccine skeptic — during the Transition in 2017.