Former President Donald Trump on Friday delivered his strongest words yet to supporters endorsing the COVID-19 vaccine, encouraging them to get the shot and reminding them that he was vaccinated before leaving office.
Trump’s comments at a rally in Cullman, Ala., came as cases reached a record high in the state. The Alabama Department of Public Health said last month that since April 1, 96 percent of deaths from COVID-19 were among people who were not fully vaccinated.
“I believe totally in your freedoms, I do. You’ve got to do what you have to do, but I recommend, take the vaccines. I did it. It's good.” Trump said.
After hearing a few boos, Trump continued: “You’ve got your freedoms. But I happened to take the vaccine.”
Trump then joked: “If it doesn't work, you'll be the first to know, okay? … But it is working.”
In neighboring Mississippi, 86 percent of COVID deaths and 89 percent of COVID hospitalizations have occurred among those not fully vaccinated.
Nationwide, vaccinations have surged with the spread of the COVID delta variant. On Saturday, the White House reported three straight days of 1 million doses being administered – the first time that had happened in more than two months. A full 73 percent of adults have now been vaccinated. On Friday the U.S. hit a milestone, with 200 million people having received at least one dose.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday gave full approval to the Pfizer vaccine, saying it now will be marketed as “Comirnaty.”
The Pfizer vaccine is one of three vaccines that were approved by the FDA for emergency use authorization before Trump left the White House under the framework of Operation Warp Speed. He touted that accomplishment during his speech in Alabama, saying his administration “handed Biden three vaccines to end the pandemic in record time.”
In January, the Trump White House website listed the development of COVID vaccines as one of his administration’s biggest accomplishments. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy went a step further, calling Operation Warp Speed one of the Trump administration’s five biggest accomplishments.
“The regulatory barriers he tore down made it possible for multiple vaccines to be developed, approved, and distributed,” McCarthy said.
Michael Goodwin of the New York Post labeled the vaccines “Trump’s greatest achievement as president.”
“Trump’s relentless pressure on private companies as well as the sprawling bureaucracy,” Goodwin wrote, “turned what many in the left-wing media and even some in the medical community regarded as a pipe dream into a lifesaving reality.”
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Al Drago/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.