Former President Donald Trump's decision to get vaccinated in secret at the White House in January to protect himself against Covid-19 after being infected with the virus in October was criticised by CNN Medical Analyst Dr Jonathan Reiner.
Responding to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll which had 75 per cent of Democrats saying that they had already gotten the vaccine or will at some point, compared to only 41 per cent of GOP voters, Dr Reiner said Monday: "In a similar fashion to the politicization of masks, we've seen the same thing now to a little bit of a lesser degree, but nonetheless there with the vaccines.
"Another poll by the Gallup Organization last week asked people if a vaccine was available for them right now, would they take it? And 91 per cent of Democrats said yes. 51 per cent of Republicans said yes. So we must close that gap.
"So what an opportunity for the most respected Republican, the former president of the United States, to make a big statement, to be publicly seen getting vaccinated. Yet he did not do that. Why would he not do that?"
CNN anchor Kate Bolduan noted that two of the vaccines were approved during Mr Trump's time in office, giving him a chance to brag by getting vaccinated in a public setting.
"Right. Take a victory lap," Dr Reiner responded.
He added: "So why wouldn't the former president do that? It is either something like he didn't want to estrange the vaccine denier population of his base, or something completely insane, which is he didn't want to roll up his sleeve in public?
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"The net result is incredibly destructive. We saw what happened when he cast doubt on the utility of masks last year. Without the president's very visible assent to vaccines, it has just a devastating result on the acceptance of vaccines in people who doubt it right now."
Mr Trump encouraged his supporters to get the vaccine for the first time on Sunday as he spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Bragging about his administration's vaccine achievements, Mr Trump said: "Never let them forget. This was us. We did this. And the distribution is moving along, according to our plan. And it’s moving along really well."
He added: "Remember, we took care of a lot of people, including, I guess on December 21st, we took care of Joe Biden. Cause he got his shot. He got his vaccine... So everybody, go get your shot... He got his shot and it’s good that he got his shot."
The news that Mr Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump had both received the vaccine was first reported by The New York Times.
It's not clear what vaccine the Trumps received, NBC News reports that the White House photographer was not there to document the event.
Both President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris got vaccinated in public to boost confidence in the vaccines’ safety and effectiveness.
Since distribution started on 14 December, 76 million Americans have been vaccinated, according to NPR. That is 15.3 per cent of all Americans. 1.8 million shots are being given a day at this time.
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