For some, confidence wavers over potential concerns for the expedited vaccine for coronavirus. A November Gallup poll found 42% of Americans unwilling to take the vaccine, citing the unprecedented pace of its development as reason for worry. To sow greater confidence in public health, three former Presidents, from both sides of the aisle, plan to band together and televise their dose of the vaccine. After President Barack Obama indicated his willingness to be vaccinated on live television, Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have expressed their desire to follow suit, once the vaccine is determined to be safe and effective.
The President’s Pledge
“I promise you that when it’s been made for people who are less at risk, I will be taking it, and I may end up taking it on TV or having it filmed just so that people know that I trust this science,” Obama said during an interview on SiriusXM’s “The Joe Madison Show” that will air fully on Thursday. “What I don’t trust is getting COVID.”
Since only 42% of non-white adults would be willing to take the vaccine, Obama keyed specifically on the black community, encouraging them of the vaccine’s essentialness and that public health officials could be trusted, despite certain instances of horrific treatment towards the black community like the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.
“And 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. “But the fact of the matter is, is that vaccines are why we don’t have polio anymore, and they’re 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.”
Shortly after Obama’s announcement, President Bush and Clinton similarly volunteered to air their dose of 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,” Bush’s chief of staff Freddy Ford told CNN. “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.”
“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,” said Angel Urena, a press secretary to Clinton.
A spokesperson for former President Jimmy Carter has not responded to CNN for his decision to join Presidents Bush, Obama, and Clinton to take the vaccine publicly.
Building Confidence In Vaccines
Taking inspiration from Elvis Presley, researchers credit the king of Rock and Roll’s stunt of receiving the polio vaccine on The Ed Sullivan Show on October 28, 1956, for the sharp increase of polio vaccination rate among American teens, spiking from 0.6% to more than 80% in just six months. And with the covid-19 vaccine right around the corner, public health officials could rely on the three former Presidents for a comparable mark of confidence.
The United Kingdom approved of Pfizer and the German company BioNTech’s vaccine for emergency use, with immunizations beginning as early as next week. The pharmaceutical companies expect to receive approval in the United States later this month.