The Trump administration’s coronavirus testing czar on Monday called on former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence to encourage vaccinations in light of data indicating many Republicans do not intend to get inoculated against Covid-19.
“I think it’s very important for former President Trump as well as the vice president, to actively encourage all the followers to get the vaccine,” Adm. Brett Giroir told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead,” when asked whether Trump should be urging his supporters to get the vaccine in light of a recent CNN poll showing that 46% of Republicans indicated that they won’t try to get a vaccine.
“This is something that the Trump administration developed under its time,” Giroir said. “And I think all of the above, including the former President speaking out, would be very important.”
While the former President and first lady received the Covid-19 vaccine at the White House in January, they had done so quietly. Trump then encouraged his followers to get vaccinated against the virus in a speech last month at the Conservative Political Action Conference – a notable shift in his messaging as he had long dismissed the gravity of the virus and eschewed some health practices during his time in office. More recently, he was the only living former President not involved in an ad campaign urging Americans to get the coronavirus vaccine when it is their turn.
Former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and their respective former first ladies appeared in the newly released campaign that showed them receiving their vaccines, a push that is aimed squarely at combating vaccine skepticism. Obama, Bush and Clinton had volunteered in December to get their Covid-19 vaccines on camera to promote public confidence in the vaccine’s safety, and President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were each vaccinated on live television in December.
A White House official had told CNN in mid-December that Trump wouldn’t be administered a coronavirus vaccine until it was recommended by the White House medical team. The official said at the time that Trump was still receiving the benefits of the monoclonal antibody cocktail he was given during his recovery from Covid-19 earlier in the fall, when both he and the first lady had tested positive for the virus.
Giroir, asked by Tapper on Monday why Trump was vaccinated behind closed doors and whether that had been a mistake, said he didn’t know the former President had been vaccinated “until I heard it as it was reported in the news,” adding later: “But I think the point now is, and I think this is where we are, that we all have to get together and urge every American.”
“The people who follow our former President are very committed to President Trump, and I think his leadership still matters a great deal, and I think we have to do a better job reaching the minority underserved communities that have been so disproportionately affected.”
CNN’s Jim Acosta, Dan Merica and Maeve Reston contributed to this report.