Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton have volunteered to get vaccinated for COVID-19 on-camera in order to encourage others to get their own vaccinations. Once the vaccine has been deemed safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and has been given to high-risk populations, the three most recent presidents say want to help bolster public confidence in the vaccine.
“A few weeks ago, President Bush asked me to let Dr. [Anthony] Fauci and Dr. [Deborah] Birx know that — when the time is right — he wants to do what he can to help encourage his fellow citizens to get vaccinated,” Bush’s former chief of staff, Freddy Ford, told 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.”
On Wednesday (Dec. 2), Clinton’s press secretary, Angel Urena, expressed a similar sentiment to the outlet.
“President Clinton will definitely take a vaccine as soon as available to him, based on the priorities determined by public health officials,” Urena said. “And he will do it in a public setting if it will help urge all Americans to do the same.”
During a Thursday (Dec. 3) SiriusXM radio interview, Barack Obama said he trusts Dr. Fauci’s assessment of the vaccine.
“People like Anthony Fauci, who I know and I’ve worked with, I trust completely,” Obama said. “So, if Anthony Fauci tells me this vaccine is safe and can vaccinate, you know, immunize you from getting COVID, absolutely I’m going to take it.”
“I promise you that when it’s been made for people who are less at risk, I will be taking it,” he added. “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 his interview, Obama also acknowledged the concerns some may have about the new vaccine.
“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 said. “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.”
CNN also reached out to Jimmy Carter’s representatives to see if he, too, would be willing to get publicly vaccinated. So far, the 39th president has not responded.