Alex Azar, the Trump administration’s secretary of health and human services, expressed regret Tuesday about the former Republican president not receiving his COVID-19 vaccination on national television.
Mr. Trump was vaccinated against the deadly disease caused by the novel coronavirus earlier this year while he was still in the White House, but he did not acknowledge it until months later in March.
“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,” Mr. Azar, who led the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) during most of the last administration, wrote in a column for The New York Times.
“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,” Mr. Azar wrote in the opinion column.
Almost half the U.S. population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly eight months since the first shots were administered in arms.
Polling recently found significantly more Republicans than Democrats say they have not or will not be vaccinated against COVID-19, wrote Mr. Azar, a former pharmaceutical industry lobbyist and executive.
“The coronavirus is nonpartisan. It makes no judgment about one’s political leanings. The vaccines that were developed to fight this virus have no political bias, either,” Mr. Azar wrote for The Times.
“And yet the reluctance and even refusal of many Americans — including many of my fellow conservatives and Republicans — to get a COVID-19 vaccine is a frustrating irony for those of us who worked to expedite these vaccines,” added Mr. Azar, who chaired the Trump administration’s White House Coronavirus Task Force and oversaw its Operation Warp Speed program to get vaccinations developed and deployed.
President Biden received his first COVID-19 vaccination on live television on Dec. 21, several weeks after he won the 2020 White House race but nearly a month before he entered office.
Several news outlets reported in early March that Mr. Trump had been vaccinated in January while president. He subsequently acknowledged as much and has since urged his supporters to get their shots, too.
“I encourage them to take it. I do,” Mr. Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity in April.