President Biden on Monday said he sees no need for former President Donald Trump to get involved in urging “MAGA folks” who may be skeptical of COVID-19 vaccines to take them.
Biden, who rarely mentions Trump by name, said local doctors and religious leaders hold greater influence among supporters of Trump’s “Make America Great Again” platform than he does.
“I discussed it with my team and they say the thing that has more impact than anything Trump would say to the MAGA folks is what the local doctor what the local preacher what the local people in the community say,” Biden said in response to a reporter question at a White House event promoting his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill.
“So I urge — I urge all local docs and ministers and priests to talk about why, why it’s important to get it, to get that vaccine, and even after that until everyone is in fact vaccinated to wear this mask.”
A poll released last week by NPR, PBS and Marist found 41 percent of Republicans don’t plan to get a vaccine, versus 34 percent of independents and 11 percent of Democrats.
Biden said last week that there will be enough vaccine supply for all Americans to sign up for shots in May, but public reluctance could slow the path toward national herd immunity.
Trump as president led the federal Operation Warp Speed in pouring billions into coronavirus vaccine research and development and he bristles at Biden’s claims of credit for accelerating distribution.
Trump said Wednesday, “if I wasn’t President, you wouldn’t be getting that beautiful ‘shot’ for 5 years, at best, and probably wouldn’t be getting it at all.”
The first two US-deployed vaccines, produced by Pfizer and Moderna, were distributed beginning in December while Trump was president.
But Trump’s critics say he hasn’t done enough to encourage people to get vaccinated.
Trump was hospitalized for COVID-19 in October and was privately vaccinated in January before he left office. Unlike Biden and many other prominent officials, Trump received the shot with little fanfare and it wasn’t publicly known for weeks.