Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter feature in national ad campaigns launched Thursday in a bid to boost shaky public confidence in Covid-19 vaccines, which has been undermined by speedy development and months of politicization—Donald Trump, who was vaccinated in secret after previously claiming he was “immune” to the virus and takes credit for the vaccines’ development, was the only living former president not to participate.
Former presidents collaborated on a pro-vaccination ad campaign.
The “It’s Up To You” campaign, which also features former First Ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton and Rosalynn Carter, released two national ads Thursday encouraging Americans to get vaccinated.
In a minute-long video featuring all but the most recent former presidents and first ladies, all were shown receiving an injection while wearing a facemask—all had previously vowed to do so in the public eye to bolster public confidence.
“I’m getting vaccinated because we want this pandemic to end as soon as possible,” Carter said, with Bush urging Americans to “roll up your sleeve and do your part.”
“We’ve lost enough people and we’ve suffered enough damage,” Clinton said.
In a 30-second video of the three most recent former presidents (barring Trump) shot outside at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, Obama said the vaccines are the “first step to ending the pandemic and moving our country forward.”
Bush said “the science is clear: these vaccines will protect you and those you love from this dangerous and deadly disease,” with Clinton telling Americans “they could save your life.”
Vaccine hesitancy is a big problem in the U.S. and hampering efforts to tackle the pandemic. Partisan politics, which pervaded the vaccines’ development and the pandemic response as a whole, plays a part, hence the mostly concerted effort by former presidents to change public perception. A recent survey found that one in four Republicans ‘definitely’ won’t get a vaccine and there are even reports of large numbers of healthcare and other frontline workers refusing it, with many citing concerns over safety, side-effects and the government’s handling of the vaccines’ development. In line with the majority of his predecessors, President Joe Biden received his vaccine on camera.
What We Don’t Know
It remains to be seen how far such messages of unity can go without the support of Trump who divisively oversaw the Covid-19 crisis and claims credit for the development of the very vaccines being rolled out. Unlike his predecessors, Trump was quietly vaccinated in January without fanfare. But Thursday’s effort builds on Obama, Bush and Clinton’s push in December to boost vaccine confidence by volunteering to get the vaccine in public, an effort made in the final month of Trump’s presidency.
This content was originally published here.