June 7, 2023

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Trump Blames Biden for Vaccine Hesitancy, Ignoring Own Role

  • Former President Donald Trump sought to blame President Biden for US vaccine hesitancy. 
  • “They don’t trust the Biden administration. I can think of no other reason,” Trump told Fox News. 
  • But he ignored the role of right-wing figures in undermining trust in the shot. 

Former President Donald Trump in a Fox News interview sought to blame President Joe Biden for the continued reluctance of millions of Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

But the line of attack ignores the role that Trump and his allies have had in seeking to erode trust in the shot. 

Speaking to host Sean Hannity Thursday night, the former president said he could think of no other reason than failings by Biden for why around 68 million Americans remain unvaccinated. 

“During my administration, everybody wanted the vaccine,” Trump said in a phone interview. “There was nobody saying ‘oh, gee, I don’t want to take it.’ Now they say that and that’s because they don’t trust the Biden administration. I can think of no other reason.”

“When I was there, everybody wanted it.”

Polling though paints a different picture, showing that white conservatives are the most vaccine-resistant group in America.

Fox News hosts and GOP commentators and lawmakers have likely played a key role in driving that hesitancy, repeatedly questioning the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine and championing those opposed to it.

Trump himself initially urged Americans to get vaccinated, including in an appearance on Hannity’s show in April. He earned some rare disapproval from his supporters for supporting it, getting booed at a rally in August where he urged people to get vaccinated.

In more recent remarks, however, Trump has taken a position closer to the attitude of many of his supporters.

He expressed reluctance to get a booster shot in an interview in September, saying “I’m not against it, but it’s probably not for me.”

He had also criticised the booster shot when prompted by a Fox Business host the month before. 

The Daily Beast reported in August that he had ignored entreaties from advisers to give stronger backing to the vaccination campaign. It followed an April Politico story in which unnamed Trump advisers said they tried and failed to get him to be more enthusiastic in promoting the jabs.

Analysts told Insider that the persistent anti-vaccine sentiment on Fox was likely motivated by a desire to damage Biden politically after he became president.

The Biden administration has sought to encourage people get get vaccinated. After those methods began to stall, Biden mandated the vaccine for federal workers and contractors, and employees of big companies.

Officials have attracted criticism in some quarters for not doing more to communicate the safety of vaccines and underestimating the scale of vaccine hesitancy. 

The vaccines were developed as part of the Trump administration’s operation Warp Speed. 

Initially both Democrats and Republicans urged Americans to get the shot, but in recent months they have become a politicised issue.