With several vaccines for COVID-19 appearing close to receiving FDA approval, there is some skepticism among the public about the effectiveness of the early doses due to the fast pace of the testing and production process. Former President Barack Obama made an effort to alleviate those concerns during an interview on SiriusXM’s The Joe Madison Show, saying he would publicly take the vaccine once it is available.
“I promise you that when it’s been made for people who are less at risk, I will be taking it. I may end up taking it on TV or having it filmed, just so that people know that I trust this science,” the 44th president told Madison during a portion of the full interview shared by SiriusXM on YouTube December 2, with the entirety set to air on December 3.
Obama went on to encourage Americans to follow the current guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19 while the vaccine is implemented, primarily to groups most at risk during the early stages. Those groups include the elderly, frontline workers, medical workers, those who work in grocery stores and first responders.
Obama also expressed a hopefulness that the incoming administration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will put the science experts in charge and voiced his support for Dr. Anthony Fauci. He told Madison that he trusted the infectious disease expert completely, and if he determined that the vaccine was safe, he would have no problem taking it. The president added that he was even willing to receive the vaccination on live television if it would help assuage any fears Americans, particularly those in the African American community, had.
“I understand you know historically, everything dating back all the way to the Tuskegee experiments and so forth, why the African American community would have some skepticism,” he said. “But the fact of the matter is that vaccines are why we don’t have polio anymore, the reason why we don’t have a whole bunch of kids dying from measles and smallpox and diseases that used to decimate entire populations and communities.”
Obama was joined in his promise to take the vaccine publicly by two other former presidents, as reported by Reuters. Representatives for George W. Bush and Bill Clinton both confirmed their willingness. Bush’s chief of staff Freddy Ford said the former president would take it on camera as emergency approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is given. Clinton spokesman Angel Urena wrote in an email that the Democrat would publicly take the vaccine if it would help encourage Americans to do likewise.
On December 10, an FDA panel of outside advisers will determine if they will grant emergency approval for a vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. with German partner BioNTech. A vaccine developed by Moderna Inc. will be reviewed the following week. If approved, inoculations could potentially begin within days.