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Former President Donald Trump urged people on Tuesday to get a COVID-19 vaccine, saying he recommends it to people who are still hesitant or who don't want to get it.
He also acknowledged that people should be free to decide for themselves but encouraged Americans to consider it.
"I would recommend it, and I would recommend it to a lot of people that don't want to get it, and a lot of those people voted for me, frankly," he said during a Fox News interview Tuesday night.
"We have our freedoms and we have to live by that, and I agree with that also," he said. "But it is a great vaccine. It is a safe vaccine, and it is something that works."
Trump and former first lady Melania Trump received COVID-19 vaccines before they left the White House in January, Fox News previously reported, but Trump hasn't mentioned publicly that he received the vaccine. Former Vice President Mike Pence and other top federal officials received their shots on television as a public show of support in December. During the past week, the living former presidents and first ladies — other than the Trumps — took part in a public service announcement to promote COVID-19 vaccines.
Trump promoted the vaccine during a Feb. 28 appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Florida, saying, "Everybody, go get your shot." However, a new PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll showed that 49% of Republican men said they don't intend to get a vaccine. In a recent CBS News poll, about 33% of Republicans said they didn't plan to get vaccinated.
In another new poll this week from The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, about 42% of Republicans said they "probably" or "definitely" wouldn't get the shot, as compared with 17% of Democrats. Public health officials have voiced concerns that many of Trump's supporters have said they don't plan to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
"This isn't a political issue, this is a public health issue," Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Fox News Sunday.
Fauci said it "would make all the difference in the world" if Trump urged his supporters to get vaccinated.
The U.S. has distributed more than 142 million vaccine doses, according to the latest CDC tally updated on Tuesday. More than 72 million Americans have received at least one dose, and another 39 million are fully vaccinated.
On Tuesday night, Trump applauded his administration for taking a "big bet" on making COVID-19 vaccines.
"It works incredibly well — 95%, maybe even more than that," he said. "It is really saving our country, and it is saving, frankly, the world."
Fox News: "Trump urges all Americans to get COVID vaccine: 'It's a safe vaccine' and it 'works,'" "Fox News Sunday transcript, March 14, 2021."
PBS NewsHour: "Politics still drives how Americans feel about COVID response, one year in."
CBS News: "Vaccines drive optimism about containing COVID-19 pandemic — CBS News poll."
The Associated Press: "Trump assures supporters that COVID-19 vaccination is safe."
CDC: "COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States."