The three former Presidents believe televising their immunizations will encourage other Americans to get vaccinated.
Three ex-Presidents of the United States have volunteered to do more to protect the country's citizens in the midst of the public health crisis than President Donald Trump. Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton have all agreed to get vaccinated against the virus on camera or national television, NPR reports. The hope is that doing so will assure Americans of just how safe the vaccination is, encouraging them to get vaccinated themselves. While the quick development of vaccines by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Moderna has drawn skepticism from the world at large, more and more experts have claimed that the vaccines are safe.
The proclamations from the three Presidents came independently of each other. Obama shared his commitment to taking the vaccine publicly in an interview on SiriusXM's The Joe Madison Show. "I promise you that when it's been made for people who are less at risk, I will be taking it," he stated. "I may end up taking it on TV or having it filmed, just so that people know that I trust this science." He said that if Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease expert in the United States, gave his stamp of approval, then he had no hesitations in getting his shot.
Following his statements, representatives for Bush and Clinton added that they were prepared to do the same. Freddy Ford, Bush's chief of staff, explained that the former President had in fact reached out to Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, to find out how he could help promote the vaccination. Ford said in an interview with 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." Meanwhile, Clinton's press secretary, Angel Urena, also informed the news outlet that he would be willing to get the jab in public on TV in order to urge other Americans to follow suit.
Both Pfizer and Moderna claim that their vaccines are 95 percent effective. However, members of the public are still concerned about how safe they are. Notably, a recent survey revealed that African Americans are more concerned than those of other ethnicities. Obama said he understood their hesitations. "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," he explained. "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."
Another concern is the prevalence of the anti-vaccination movement. The anti-vaxx movement has only been growing stronger in the United States, and experts are unsure how this will affect the country's ability to achieve herd immunity once the vaccines have been approved by national regulators. The United Kingdom, in contrast, has already formally approved Pfizer and the German company BioNTech's vaccine for emergency use. The country plans to begin immunizations next week.