Dear Commons Community,
Former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton said they’d be willing to take a coronavirus vaccine publicly, once one becomes available, to encourage all Americans to get inoculated against a disease that has already killed more than 275,000 people nationwide.
Former President Barack Obama said during an episode of SiriusXM’s “The Joe Madison Show” airing Thursday, “I promise you that when it’s been made for people who are less at risk, I will be taking it.”
“I may end up taking it on TV or having it filmed,” Obama added, “just so that people know that I trust this science.”
[That may not be possible for a while. The Food and Drug Administration will consider authorizing emergency use of two vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna later this month, but current estimates project that no more than 20 million doses of each vaccine will be available by the end of this year. Each product also requires two doses, meaning shots will be rationed in the early stages.
Health care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line, according to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. That encompasses about 24 million people out of a U.S. population of around 330 million.}
Former President Bill Clinton would “definitely” be willing to get a vaccine, as soon as one is “available to him, based on the priorities determined by public health officials,” spokesman Angel Ureña said.
“And he will do it in a public setting if it will help urge all Americans to do the same,” Ureña said in a statement yesterday.
Ureña declined to say whether Clinton’s team has been in touch with other former presidents about perhaps setting up a joint public immunization session, whenever that might be possible.
Former President George W. Bush’s chief of staff, Freddy Ford, told CNN that Bush recently asked him to meet with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, to let them “know that, when the time is right, he wants to do what he can to help encourage his fellow citizens to get vaccinated.”
“First, the vaccines need to be deemed safe and administered to the priority populations,” Ford told the network. “Then, President Bush will get in line for his, and will gladly do so on camera.”
The only other living former president, Jimmy Carter, who at 96 is the oldest ex-president in U.S. history, also encouraged people to get vaccinated, but stopped short of pledging to do so himself in public.
“Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, said today that they are in full support of COVID-19 vaccine efforts and encourage everyone who is eligible to get immunized as soon as it becomes available in their communities,” the Carter Center said in a statement.
The voice of support comes as the U.S. recorded more than 3,100 COVID-19 deaths in a single day, far outpacing the record set last spring. The number of Americans hospitalized with the virus also has eclipsed 100,000 for the first time.
President Donald Trump was asked this summer if he would consider being the first to take the vaccine to send a message that it was safe. The president said that going first could also lead to accusations that he was being selfish, but that he would take it if recommended to do so.
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris also indicated that they would take the vaccine publicly. Biden added half -jokingly “only if Dr. Anthony Fauci approves it.”