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Trump, in shift, urges supporters to get the COVID-19 vaccine

Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Former President Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 28.
(John Raoux / Associated Press)

Former President Trump urged people to be vaccinated, saying he would recommend COVID-19 shots to “a lot of people that don’t want to get it, and a lot of those people voted for me.”

In an interview Tuesday night on Fox News, Trump said that people were free to decide for themselves whether they would be vaccinated.

As the U.S. seeks to build herd immunity from the coronavirus, Republicans’ vaccine hesitancy has emerged as a big challenge. Former President Trump hasn’t helped.

“We have our freedoms and we have to live by that and I agree with that also. But it is a great vaccine. It is a safe vaccine and it is something that works,” he said.

Republican opposition to receiving the vaccine is strong. A new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 42% of Republicans say they probably or definitely will not get the shot, compared with 17% of Democrats — a 25-point split.

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Trump rarely promoted vaccination during his presidency, and he did not disclose publicly that he and First Lady Melania Trump got vaccinated near the end of his term in January. But when he appeared Feb. 28 at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, he said, “Everybody, go get your shot.”


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