Former US Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are volunteering to get their Covid-19 vaccines on camera to promote public confidence in the vaccine’s safety once the US Food and Drug Administration authorizes one.
The three most recent former presidents hope an awareness campaign to promote confidence in its safety and effectiveness would be a powerful message as American public health officials try to convince the public to take the vaccine.
Polls indicate large swathes of the US public are reluctant to get the jab.
A Gallup poll – conducted in October before the results of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine trials were released – showed roughly six in 10 Americans would be willing to take the vaccine, up from a low of 50% in September.
“I promise you that when it’s been made for people who are less at risk, I will be taking it,” Obama said in a SiriusXM radio interview on Wednesday.
“I may end up taking it on TV or having it filmed, just so that people know that I trust this science, and what I don’t trust is getting Covid.”
During the interview, Obama appeared to acknowledge the very real problem of vaccine hesitancy, which some health experts worry could cause minorities- who have been more adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic- to avoid getting a shot.
“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. 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,” he said.
Representatives for Bush and Clinton told CNN that the former presidents – who have banded together in the past – pledged to take the vaccine “as soon as available” to them and urged all Americans to do the same.
Public health experts have said mass inoculation against the virus could result in herd immunity, an essential step in curbing the spread of the disease.
The public vaccinations may play into a broader awareness campaign once a vaccine is formally approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.