Donald Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday it would have been ideal for the former president to have received his coronavirus vaccination on national television to help reduce hesitancy from Republicans.
‘I’m glad former President Trump got vaccinated, but it would have been even better for him to have done so on national television so that his supporters could see how much trust and confidence he has in what is arguably one of his greatest accomplishments,’ Azar wrote in a New York Times op-ed.
Azar served as chairman of Trump’s White House Coronavirus Task Force for just one month from its inception in January 2020 before he was replaced by then-Vice President Mike Pence in February 2020. He remained in his HHS post, however, until Trump vacated office on January 20, 2021.
He was also one of the original architects of ‘Operation Warp Speed’, the initiative under Trump aimed at getting a vaccine developed as quickly as possible.
Trump was quietly vaccinated in January.
Conversely, then President-elect Joe Biden and then Vice President-elect Kamala Harris both received their first doses of the coronavirus vaccine on live television. Other politicians, like Nancy Pelosi, also opted to get their jab on camera to encourage confidence and that the public follow suit.
Azar admitted that HHS and the White House task force did not anticipate the bipartisanship that would emerge from the creation of the vaccine, claiming more should have been done to combat that in the early stages of development under the Trump administration.
Trump era Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar (pictured on January 12, 2021) penned an op-ed on Tuesday claiming the former president should have gotten his COVID-19 vaccine on national TV to help reduce hesitancy among Republicans
On Monday, 70 per cent of American adults had received at least one dose of the vaccine, reaching the Biden administration’s July 4 goal nearly a month late
Vaccination rates plateaued around June, shortly after the CDC told vaccinated Americans they no longer had to wear masks indoors
‘We could have done more to address vaccine hesitancy,’ he wrote, listing things the administration did do to try and address these issues head on, like making sure clinical trials included a diverse sampling of participants.
‘But we did not predict the politicization of vaccines that has led so many Republicans to hold back,’ Azar wrote of the partisanship surrounding the jab.
He cited an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll showing that ‘as of mid-July, 43 percent of Republicans said that they have not been vaccinated and definitely or probably wouldn’t be, versus 10 percent of Democrats.’
The Biden administration finally hit its goal of getting 70 per cent of American adults the first dose of the vaccine on Monday – nearly a month after it intended to hit that milestone on July 4.
Hesitancy toward getting the jab has been high among Republicans, young people – who don’t feel as threatened by the virus – and minority communities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated it’s face covering guidelines last week, telling Americans in high transmittance areas they should go back to wearing masks indoors.
President Biden, during televised remarks, and the CDC claim the updated guidance is in response to the Delta variant surging in certain parts of the country and an increase in breakthrough cases in vaccinated Americans.
Experts also claim that the masks are necessary again considering unvaccinated Americans have likely unmasked along with the rest of the vaccinated population over the last few months – leading to a surge in cases among those without the jab.
Azar was an architect of ‘Operation Warp Speed’ – the Trump initiative aimed at developing a coronavirus vaccine as quickly as possible. Trump and Azar speak to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House on May 14, 2020
‘The vaccines could be a victory lap for the Republican Party, and I call upon all party leaders and conservatives to double down on encouraging vaccination,’ Azar said.
He added: ‘Party leaders like Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida are making clear that vaccines save lives. Sean Hannity of Fox News is now telling viewers to ‘please take Covid seriously.’ Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana shared a photo of himself recently getting vaccinated. I urge more of this from trusted voices on the right.’
Trump has also encouraged his supporters to get inoculated.
‘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,’ Trump told ‘Fox News Primetime’ in a March interview.
‘It is a great vaccine,’ he continued at the time. ‘It is a safe vaccine and it is something that works.’
The CDC has reinstituted indoor mask guidelines for the vaccinated in high transmission areas where the Delta variant is surging and break through cases are steep
Case rates have massively spiked in the U.S. since mid-July
The death rate, however, has not corresponded with that spike in cases