Covid vaccine: Obama, Bush and Clinton say they may get jab publicly to boost confidence in safety

Matt Mathers
·3-min read

Watch: Former presidents offer to get COVID vaccine on TV

Barack Obama has said he will get a coronavirus vaccine and is prepared to be filmed receiving it to help boost confidence in the US's vaccination programme.

Mr Obama said he plans to take a jab once one is available, and encouraged all Americans to get inoculated against Covid-19.

"I will be taking it," Mr Obama, 59, told Sirius XM's 'The Joe Madison Show' in an interview set to be aired in full on Thursday. "I may take it on TV or have it filmed so people know that I trust this science."

He added: “What I don’t trust is getting Covid.”

Mr Obama’s comments are a direct intervention aimed at tackling US vaccine scepticism and 'anti-vaxxer' misinformation more broadly, as states prepare to begin immunising residents in the coming weeks.

Former presidents Bill Clinton and George W Bush have also reportedly said they would get vaccinated publically to boost confidence in the innoculation programme.

Both Pfizer and Moderna have applied to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency approval for their vaccines. FDA officials are scheduled to meet with both companies on 10 December.

‘I trust this science,’ says Obama (Getty Images)
‘I trust this science,’ says Obama (Getty Images)

America has so far reported some 274,000 Covid-19 deaths while new cases and hospitalisations are reaching record levels.

Despite those figures, millions of people across the country are dubious about the safety of coronavirus vaccines.

Some 42 per cent of America's population (around 137 million) said they would not get a jab when one is ready, according to a Gallup survey published last month, although that figure was down from 50 per cent in September.

Non-white adults are less likely to get vaccine, the same survey shows, despite being disproportionately impacted by the disease.

Around 62 per cent of white adults said they would get vaccinated against 48 per cent of adults from a Black and ethnic minority background.

Mr Obama appeared to reference that disparity in his Wednesday's interview.

He said: “I understand, historically, everything dating back all the way to the Tuskegee experiments and so forth, why the African American community would have some scepticism."

From 1932 to 1972, a group of scientists experimented on around 400 black men with syphilis without their knowledge or consent. It became known as the Tuskegee experiments.

Mr Obama added: “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.”

Some medical experts say the speed at which the vaccines have been developed is a factor in why many people are concerned about their safety.

There is also a growing amount of false information about coronavirus which can be easily viewed online.

Some of the wilder allegations posit that Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder, big pharma and the World Health Organistion (WHO) created the virus for financial gain.

Big pharma has been key in developing coronavirus vaccines, while the Gates Foundation and the WHO are helping to distribute them.

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