Trump and COVID-19 vaccines

How the former president’s attitude is holding the nation back from coming out of the pandemic


A photo of Trump giving a speech in 2020. | Photo from CNN

Suraj Gangaram, Staff Writer

America, we have a problem. A nationwide CNN poll has shown that up to 57% of Republican men are vaccine hesitant, more than any other group in America

Trump’s advice to Americans on vaccines is, well, to put it bluntly, controversial.

Public opinion surveys in recent weeks suggest that a large segment of Republicans are hesitant to get the vaccine. However, they should overcome their doubts for their own good and for the nation, as scientists estimate that somewhere between 70-85% of American adults need to be vaccinated for the country to achieve herd immunity and stop the spread of COVID-19. 

This group’s reticent attitude can be partly attributed to Trump’s own attitude toward the vaccine. Trump using his platform as the country’s most popular Republican (even out of his presidency) to dissuade his followers from getting the vaccine is hampering the process.

Many anti-vaxxers and Republicans (which are not mutually exclusive) associate vaccines with the development of autism in children, but that has been debunked as the condition develops in the utero before a child is born. Another misconception is that natural immunity is better than vaccine-acquired immunity. This method is too time-consuming and dangerous, and the sooner we can get back to some semblance of normalcy, the better.

The biggest misconception pertaining to COVID-19 is that the vaccine was developed too quickly to be safe. This was debunked by Johns Hopkins researchers since both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are 95% effective and have reported no detrimental effects.

A tweet from Trump about his stance on vaccines from 2014. | Photo from Twitter

However, Trump has counterintuitively expressed support for the vaccines in recent months, but also backtracks on any statements of encouragement.

“I would recommend [getting the COVID-19 vaccine],” Trump said during an interview on Fox News with Maria Bartiromo. “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. But again, 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.”

The irony is that Trump is refusing to speak out forcefully on behalf of getting the vaccine, but at the same time, he’s trying to take credit for its very existence. This fickle mindset isn’t helping anyone at all — in fact, it just makes the situation more convoluted than it has to be. Especially during the introduction of vaccines, Trump should have used his position of power and influence to emphasize the prospect of herd immunity, which would have led to the country opening up sooner. Seemingly as part of an attempt to appeal to the masses and stay relevant, Trump has contradicted what he has said on multiple occasions. Because of his misleading and contradictory statements, we should not heed what he says, especially now that he isn’t in power anymore. 

On the other hand, President Biden has forthrightly delivered on his plan to deliver millions of vaccine doses, even before the promised 100 day deadline. Biden is recognizing that this should not be a partisan issue, but since people see it that way, he’s catering to the audience of naysayers. Encouraging prominent local Republicans such as religious and community leaders to speak out in support or even post photos of themselves getting vaccinated, the marketing campaign in support of science is well underway and time will tell how effective it will be with those most resistant. 

We should learn from this situation to hold politicians and people in power accountable for their words and actions, because they can easily influence the masses, and we should also take the initiative to go about doing our own research. Even one simple Google search can yield scientist after scientist saying the vaccine is safe and the most effective way to get out of this pandemic and back to our lives.